E-recycling Green Quiz Challenge

E-recyclingQuestion: Which of the following office items can be recycled?

A. Computer monitors

B. Televisions

C. Printers

D. Computer mice

E. All of the above

Congratulations to this contest's winner, Lesley, who will receive a reusable bag filled with cool eco-goodies!

Answer: All of the above.

According to the U.S. EPA, discarded electronics accounted for 2.5 million tons of landfill waste in 2007. Electronics, which can contain toxins like lead and mercury, need to be carefully recycled to ensure that contaminants aren’t released into the air or into groundwater.

Commonly referred to as e-waste, the dumping of old electronics into landfills can wreak havoc on ecosystems and human health, due to the metals and chemicals used to make some of our most valued tools and toys. According to the EPA, these substances can include:

Lead – used in TV glass and personal computer (PC) cathode ray tubes (CRTs). The EPA reports that older CRTs contain an average of four pounds of lead, while newer CRTs contain closer to two pounds.

Mercury – small amounts of mercury can be found in the bulbs that light flat panel computer monitors and laptop screens.

Brominated flame retardants – while this material has been phased out as new products have come online, this substance can be found in the plastic casings on old wires and cables.

Cadmium – older models of rechargeable batteries for laptops and other portable electronic devices may contain cadmium, while newer batteries do not.

These substances have been known to produce a range of substantial health effects, including impaired endocrine and nervous systems, kidney disease, and even cancer.

Reusing and Recycling E-Waste

According to EPA estimates, a mere 18 percent of e-waste was recycled in 2007. A similar study by Consumer Reports’Electronic Reuse & Recycling Center found that nearly two in 10 consumers that disposed of a computer monitor in 2007 threw it in the garbage. Fourteen percent of those that disposed of a laptop computer threw it into the trash.

Reusing and recycling e-waste can keep harmful substances out of landfills and give electronics a longer shelf life, through reprocessing the materials for a new generation of electronics or by donating it to those who need it.

Reusing or recycling your electronics can also reduce energy use and emissions produced from mining and manufacturing new items—the EPA estimated that if we had recycled 100 million old cell phones in 2006, we could have saved enough energy to power 194,000 U.S. homes for a year.

Recyclers Beware?

In 2006, OnEarth, published by the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), reported that as much as 80 percent of the world's e-waste ends up in Asia—and 90 percent of that waste ends up in China.

In November, 2008, 60 Minutes aired a report in which they tracked illegally shipped e-waste from the United States to China, where retired electronics are broken down by low-income workers, often times by burning toxic metals and plastics.

According to the report, scientists found that the town profiled in the investigation had the highest levels of cancer-causing dioxins in the world, and that pregnancies were six times more likely to end in miscarriage. Seven out of 10 kids were found with too much lead in their blood.

While the 60 Minutes crew was able to single out the source of this particular illegal trade, it learned that the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) had set up a sting in which 42 other American companies were willing to illegally export this waste to foreign countries.

So how can you ensure that your electronics will be properly recycled?

  1. Donate first. If you’re getting rid of electronics because you’ve upgraded to a newer model, consider whether you can donate your items first. Of course, EarthShare would be proud to accept your donation through its partner, MyBoneyard.com. Your donation will keep your computer out of the landfill, support EarthShare, and you can even get cash back. Or, check out special re-use programs like Computers for Schools. You can find more resources like this on the EPA’s eCycling page.

  2. Check with your manufacturer. Many manufacturers and retailers offer take-back programs through which you can return your used items, including Apple, Dell, HP, Office Depot and Best Buy. The NRDC recommends checking a manufacturer’s web site to get the scoop on their take-back policies.

  3. Do your homework. The NRDC points us to a comprehensive list of “e-Stewards,” comprised of businesses and organizations who have committed to “the most rigorous criteria for sustainable and socially-just electronics recycling.” Bookmark or print this valuable list to reference e-Stewards in your area.

E-Waste Resources

From our offices to our homes, we can all do our part to reduce e-waste and ensure its proper disposal. For more information, take a look at the resources listed below. And, if you’re interested in becoming an environmental steward through your workplace, check out EarthShare’s workplace giving campaigns.

eCycling, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

What To Do About E-Waste, National Resources Defense Council

E-Waste Statistics, Greener Choices, Consumer Reports

The eStewards Initiative, the Basel Action Network

The World Confronts Its E-Waste Nightmare,” OneEarth Magazine, National Resources Defense Council. Fall 2006.

Following the Trail of Toxic E-Waste,” 60 Minutes, CBS News. November 2008.

E-Waste: Dark Side of the Digital Age,” Wired Magazine. January 2003.

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00e554936bef88340111684de7ba970c

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference E-recycling Quiz Green Quiz Challenge:

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

candy

i do not know much about this until i read this article,thanks so much.people really need to educate about this to save the earth.

Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear on this weblog until the author has approved them.

If you have a TypeKey or TypePad account, please Sign In.

EARTH SAVING NEWS