Spring is having a heck of a time getting sprung around here. It’s cooler than normal and way wetter than normal, so we need some heating-degree days in a big way. But even though the farmers are fretting, everyone is moving ahead with clearing out junk. Municipalities are organizing dumpster days and opportunities for the public to dispose properly of electronic waste. Since it’s illegal in Illinois to throw e-waste into the regular trash or a landfill, I am glad the public does have disposal options. I’ve got enough old equipment here at work to fill a pickup truck!
Our IT support company, MCS, has organized an e-waste collection event, and I’m hopeful we can clear out a lot of old gear. We are lucky in that we only have computer monitors that are the old tube type. Televisions with cathode ray tubes are flooding recycling centers as consumers upgrade to flatscreens, and the recycling industry can no longer make money on taking them. Big box retailers charge at least $10 to take old CRT TVs, and if you have one, I would strongly suggest getting rid of it now before the disposal cost increases.
I think it is wonderful that manufacturers are coming up with ways to save energy with electronics. Flatscreens save money, no question. Digital video players use less energy than DVD players. However, the constant stream of new products forces those who buy them to dispose of the old equipment. Unfortunately, it is not in the manufacturer’s best interests (right now) to make their products in such a way that the products can be easily broken down into reusable components. For the longest time, the tech industry has been dependent on China for crucial heavy metals. By keeping the cost of heavy metals low, China drove any competitors out of business. But where are those heavy metals now? In the very e-waste we are disposing of. Reclaiming heavy metals from e-waste should be a priority, but it may not be cost-effective. I hope that such technology makes it to the market soon, because the more heavy metals that are reclaimed, the less that can get into our food and water.
If you have a closet full of e-waste, I urge you to call around your area to see what disposal events are planned. Responsible disposal is part of being a good consumer. Do you have any tips on disposing of e-waste?