Bracing for the Bytes
Preparing your Community for Discarded Computers and Televisions
Is the electronic age truly upon us? If you have any doubts, look to two places-your basement and your local transfer station. In the last few years, the "technological trash" from our homes and businesses has increased and is on the radar screen of waste operators and town officials everywhere. How will your community handle this growing, and costly, problem?
The Growing Waste Stream
While the term "electronics" applies to a diverse body of wastes, most people think in terms of televisions and computers; and with good reason. These two particular waste streams dominate the electronics waste, with computers and peripherals claiming about 28% of the waste stream and televisions about 36%. While no one truly knows how much waste will be generated, national estimates suggest about 1 million computer and TV units could impact NH over the next ten years. Currently, about 95% of discarded computers and televisions are headed for disposal, not recycling. The more preferable route is to get the material to demanufacturers, repair businesses and donation outlets.
- EPA's E-cycling Site - The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is launching a campaign to get the word out about opportunities to reuse and recycle your old computers, TVs, and cell phones. Good facts and additional resources.
- National Electronic Product Stewardship Initiative - Also known as NEPSI, this national effort seeks to institute a nationwide collection program for outdated computers, as well as a method to fund the initiative. This is a good site for keeping abreast of national discussions on solutions for the impending amount of obsolete equipment.
- Northeast Recycling Council - The Northeast Recycling Council is a coalition of 10 states, and includes government agencies, manufacturers and recyclers www.nerc.org. NERC has produced a policy on the management of electronic waste streams and they have also finalized a study of municipal collections, which can be downloaded at no cost from its Web site.
Publications and Articles
There are several publications that may be of interest. Once again, none of the links suggested constitute an endorsement by the DES.
- Basal Action Network (BAN) Report on Exporting "Techno" Trash.
- EPA "Wastewise" update on computer recycling - An informative fact sheet and additional links.
- How Stuff Works – Find out what makes that computer tick. For that matter, find out how everything works.
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