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Natural Awakenings Dallas -Fort Worth Metroplex Edition

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Recycling All Electronic Products is Important

Dec 30, 2014 11:20PM

With the average American household owning 24 electronic devices, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) estimates we are annually producing nearly 3 million tons of e-waste. Tube-type televisions and computer monitors contain lead, while cell phones harbor toxic mercury, cadmium, arsenic and brominated flame retardants, all of which can leach from landfills into groundwater.

Alternatives include selling old phones or trading them in at a store and buying a new phone only when necessary. For $10, Staples will recycle any brand of computer monitor, desktop and laptop computer, fax machine, printer or scanner. Dell products are accepted at no charge. Electronic products are made from valuable resources and materials, including metals, plastics, and glass, all of which require energy to mine and manufacture. Donating or recycling consumer electronics conserves our natural resources and avoids air and water pollution, as well as greenhouse gas emissions that are caused by manufacturing virgin materials.

Recycling 1 million laptops saves the energy equivalent to the electricity used by more than 3,500 U.S. homes in a year. For every million cell phones we recycle, 35 thousand pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold and 33 pounds of palladium can be recovered.

Before donating or recycling used electronics, consider upgrading computer or laptop hardware or software instead of buying a brand-new product; delete all personal information; and remove batteries, they may need to be recycled separately.

Manufacturers and retailers offer several options to donate or recycle electronics. Sales of electronic products in countries like China and India and across continents such as Africa and Latin America are set to rise sharply in the next 10 years. Unless action is stepped up to properly collect and recycle materials, many developing countries face the specter of hazardous e-waste mountains with serious consequences for the environment and public health, according to UN experts.

View the United Nations Environment Programme 2010 update at unep.org/annualreport/2010.

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