Electronics Recycling Comes of Age

December 20, 2013

Electronics RecyclingMount Auburn Cemetery is sponsoring an electronics recycling day on Wednesday, January 8, 2014.  Bring your items to the Preservation Services Building garage (adjacent to the Operations Center) between 8:30am and 4:00pm. Q&A at 10:00 with Mount Auburn’s Director of IT. All items will be picked up and recycled by Surplus Technology Solutions of Waltham. There will be a $5 charge per CRT and tube TV. Bring cash with you if you plan to drop off those items. All other items with a cord will be recycled free of charge. See Surplus Technology Solutions website for acceptable items – . Email rsnow@mountauburn.org for more information.

If you don’t get the chance to bring items to Mount Auburn for recycling, then you have several other options.

Today’s consumer electronics such as computers, cell phones, radios, and TVs rely on electronic manufacturing technology that utilizes many metals and hazardous chemicals, therefore it’s important to recycle electronic items responsibly. A growing list of manufacturers are accepting items for recycling. For example, the world’s largest computer manufacturer, HP, has a recycling program for its computers and also for toner cartridges. Discount stores like Best Buy, Home Depot, and Staples accept items for recycling, mostly at no charge.

Recent reporting has shown that much of our electronics recycling in the first world is shipped overseas where it is processed in unsafe conditions. Not only do we have a challenge posed by transferring our manufacturing to third world workers who are lower paid and lack basic workplace safety; but our recycling is often shipped where there are fewer environmental protections for the recycling process. Even so there is a positive side to reuse of raw materials in China. By shipping recycled metals back to Asia for reuse – fewer raw materials need to be mined. Due to our trade imbalance, empty shipping containers heading back to Asia are plentiful and it is more efficient to fill them with recycled materials than to ship them empty.

The first thing we can do with our electronics is to keep them longer. The demand for product upgrades is created through clever marketing. How important is it for you to own the next generation of a product? If you must upgrade, then go hunting for the previous generation on craigslist, on gazelle.com, or Ebay. You can upgrade your older equipment for a lot less and keep someone else’s gadget out of a landfill.

collected items ready for recycling

collected items ready for recycling

When you need to replace equipment, look around and find someone who can use your old equipment. Look for a local ‘Freecycling’ group on www.freecycle.org or post an item on craigslist.org. Online sites such as Gazelle.com help you to resell your old equipment. And Amazon.com will pay more for your old Kindle than most other buyers online.

Recycling the following materials will prevent hazardous chemicals from being disposed in landfills. Some surprising items are hazardous and need special treatment.

Batteries – Home Depot, Best Buy
Florescent Tubes – Home Depot, town hazardous waste days
Smoke Detectors – Contain radioactive material, best bet is your town’s hazardous waste day
Thermometers – Contain mercury, your town’s hazardous waste day
Prescription Drugs – Check with your town, don’t throw these away or flush them
Oil based paints – town hazardous waste day
Electronics – your town, or local electronic recycling events

We hope to see you at Mount Auburn’s free recycling event for staff and Friends on January 8, 2014.

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