According to the Consumer Technology Association, the average American household owns 24 consumer electronics products at any given time.
Replaced for upgrades on a regular basis, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency warns these products are also the fastest-growing component filling our nation’s landfills.
And it’s like throwing away a gold mine. Seriously.
Products like computers, TVs and cell phones contain precious metals like silver and gold, rare earth elements and other valuable materials like aluminum, copper and steel that could be extracted and reused.
Cellphones by themselves represent a mountain of wasted resources. Only about 10 percent of discarded cell phones are actually recycled out of millions replaced each year.
For every one million phones thrown away, 75 pounds of gold, 772 pounds of silver, 33 pounds of palladium and more than 35,000 pounds of copper goes in the trash too.
Many tech products also contain toxic metals, including lead, cadmium and mercury. In the garbage, those metals can be released, putting the environment at risk.
So far, 25 states have enacted some sort of legislation requiring home electronics to be recycled. Use caution. Certain appliances like refrigerators, freezers, air conditioners, and water-coolers, contain Freon, a toxic coolant, and must be handled with care.
Check with your local waste management company. Depending on where you live, e-recycling may come with a fee.
In addition to government recycling programs, many manufacturers provide take-back programs. Some offer free shipping or gift cards.
Of course, donating a working TV, computer or gadget ensures the longest use of the resources before recycling.
If you want to get rid of non-working items, don’t just put them in garbage. In some areas, disposing of electronics improperly can mean hefty fines!
You can often just put them out in your yard (your yard, not public property!) or advertise using websites like Craigslist or Freecycle. Many hobbyists or entrepreneurs are happy to pick up your waste and recycle the resources themselves.