By Rebecca String
Over the years recycling has gone from being a buzz word to an important issue in today’s society. Many of us have become so accustomed to separating our bottles, cans, and cardboard from our general waste that we no longer have to think about it. Yet for many, recycling electronics raises more confusion and questions than their more well-known counterparts. Can you actually recycle electronics? What kinds of electronics can I recycle? Why can’t we just throw our old phones and computers into the garbage can?
Fortunately, New Jersey and Pennsylvania both offer free programs for individuals to drop off their electronics at local recycling centers. These centers can take computers, laptops, monitors, televisions, and peripherals such as keyboards and mice. Many also take speakers, VCRs, fax machines, copiers, printers, cell phones, radios, DVD/CD players, and more. Some local recycling centers host specific days in which you can drop off your items, but before you haul out your old desktop you should contact them to see what types of items they accept.
If the days that your recycling center offers do not fit into your schedule, there are a number of other options, which are also free. Retailers, such as Best Buy and Staples, offer recycling. These retailers will also include additional services like ensuring that your data is properly removed and destroyed permanently.
Recycling these products plays an important part in helping to protect the environment and the health of your community. All electronic devices carry toxic material such as calcium, lithium in rechargeable batteries, mercury, and lead. As these items sit in landfills around the country, chemicals from them may make their way into our soil and water supply. By recycling these products, we can cut back on this type of pollution.
In addition, recycling allows for the reuse of the metals needed to make these products and others. According to the EPA, for every one million smartphones that are recycled 35,274 lbs. of copper; 772 lbs. of silver; 75 lbs. of gold; and 33 lbs. of palladium are yielded.