Televisions, Computers, and Computer Equipment are banned from landfills and can no longer be collected as garbage. E-waste refers to televisions, computers, computer components, and other electronics with circuit boards. When E-waste is recycled, the toxic metals it contains are recovered, which protects our surface and ground water from pollution.
The City of Concord will collect e-waste on your garbage day each week. All E-Waste should be placed by the curb along with your garbage cart on your collection day.
E-Waste Contains Harmful Materials
Earth911.com reports “Electronic scrap accounts for 70 percent of the overall toxic waste currently found in landfills, according to Global Futures Foundation. In addition to valuable metals like aluminum, electronics often contain hazardous materials such as mercury.”
When placed in a landfill, even in small doses, these materials can contaminate soil as well as drinking water. The predominant consumer electronics that have been finding their way into landfills are televisions, cell phones and computers. Earth911.com describes the potential environmental impact for each category of electronic waste below.
Before there were plasma screen and liquid crystal display (LCD) TVs, we watched our Super Bowl games and sitcoms on cathode ray tubes (CRT). While the CRT model effectively provided room for all switches and wires in a box behind the screen, it also contained a great deal of lead.
Approximately 20 percent of CRTs are comprised of lead, equivalent to between 4 and 8 pounds per unit. Combine this with the fact that, as of Feb. 19, 2009, the FCC requires that all televisions must run a digital signal, and we could be looking at a lot of lead headed for landfills. Even the smallest amounts of lead can be a serious environmental issue.
While your trusty cell phone may not contain as much toxic material as larger electronic devices such as TVs, its shelf life is only about 18 months for the average consumer. With hip new products coming out on a regular basis, it’s estimated that there are more than 500 million used cell phones ready for disposal.
Cell phone coatings are often made of lead, meaning that if these 500 million cell phones are disposed of in landfills, it will result in 312,000 pounds of lead released. However, possibly the most hazardous component of the cell phone is the battery.
Cell phone batteries were originally composed of nickel and cadmium (Ni-Cd batteries). Cadmium is listed as a human carcinogen that causes lung and liver damage. Alternatives contain potentially explosive lithium or toxic lead.
Lead is present in CRT computer monitors. Also, there are other toxic elements that you should be aware of when you’re recycling that PC or Mac. Many laptops have a small fluorescent lamp in the screen that contains mercury, a toxic material when inhaled or digested.
Mercury is also found in computer circuit boards, along with lead and cadmium. Circuit boards can also include batteries made of mercury, as well as mercury switches.
In 2005 alone, almost 2 million tons of e-scrap were landfilled. While toxic materials comprise only a small amount of this volume, it doesn’t take much lead or mercury to contaminate an area’s soil or water supply. Keep this in mind when deciding what to do with those old electronic devices.
Please help us protect our local environment from toxic materials contained in e-waste.