Recycling Electronics

As the electronic age progresses, electronic waste becomes a greater and greater problem. But there are solutions. “E-waste” may be a new term to some people and many do not know what to do with their outdated or broken electronic devices. Everything from answering machines to computer monitors, vacuum cleaners to VCRs, contain parts that can be recycled or at least need to be disposed of properly due to their toxic components. Fortunately, there are many options in Indiana for the reuse and recycling of such items.

Why Electronic Recycling is Important
E-waste is a major source of toxic pollutants that, if disposed of improperly in the landfill, can leach into the soil and groundwater, ultimately ending up in the food we eat and the water we drink. If e-waste is incinerated along with other trash the fumes enter the air to produce a toxic smog. According to E-Scrap Indiana the toxic metals found in electronic waste, such as mercury, lead, cadmium, and hexavalent chromium, are persistent. This means they are not naturally broken down in the environment and remain toxic indefinitely. Because the body cannot rid itself of these metals as quickly as they are taken in, they build up and remain stored internally.

Where to Dispose of E-Waste
There are several options for discarding electronic devices. One alternative to throwing them in the trash is to donate them for reuse or scrap parts. Check out the Indiana Recycling Coalition directory of reuse and recycling companies. These include non-profits who provide technology to the less fortunate and groups that deconstruct the device to reuse specific parts. You can also find information about Indiana’s E-Cycle program here.

If the device is beyond reusability, the electronics drop off center is the best option. Here the e-scrap will usually be stripped of its reusable materials, such as glass, minerals, and metals with the remainder of parts disposed of properly. Most Solid Waste Management Departments will now take electronic waste, usually at their household hazardous waste center. Sometimes there is a fee, especially for disposal of monitors and televisions. Check with your local department for details.

Trading In E-Waste
Several computer companies have begun taking old computers when a new computer is purchased. An informative table of companies, what devices they take, and how much credit is available can be found at the Computer TakeBack Campaign.

Recycling Old Cell Phones
Most mobile phone companies offer cell phone recycling or trade-in programs. You can find examples of these programs at both Verizon and AT&T.

Purchasing Used Electronics
At the other end of the recycling loop is the purchasing of refurbished and used electronics. Resale stores usually supply computers and computer accessories which can be purchased for a nominal fee. Organizations such as Midwest E-waste have computers and printers for sale. The Goldsmith Group, a well-known Indianapolis recycler, also has refurbished computer supplies for purchase. They specialize in corporate disposal and supplying older, hard-to-find products.

Protecting Your Identity
In this age of identity theft, it is advised that all personal information be taken off of electronic devices, such as computer hard drives, before disposal.