The average American household owns 24 electronic devices, according to the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA). Why should you care where all those gadgets end up? Because in the United States, almost 3 million tons of electronic waste (“e-waste”) will be generated this year alone; globally, e-waste is growing by about 40 tons per year, according to the United Nations Environment Programme. Old-school TVs and computer monitors contain cathode-ray tubes that contain four to eight pounds of lead, a neurotoxin, and cellphones can contain mercury, cadmium, arsenic and brominated flame retardants, which can leach from landfills into groundwater.
Download the United Nations Environment Programme’s 2010 report on e-waste to learn more. And read on to find tips for recycling your own old electronics.
If you must buy a new phone, ask your cell carrier if they can recycle your old one. (Many of them do—for free!)
For just $10, Staples will recycle any brand of computer monitor, desktop and laptop computer, fax machine, printer and scanner. Staples will take any Dell product for recycling at no charge.
Find an "e-steward" in your area: The organization imposes rigorous standards for sustainable and “socially just” e-waste recycling.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency also offers information about e-waste recycling in your area, regulations regarding handling of electronic equipment, answers frequently asked questions about e-waste and offers additional resources.