One of the great things about technology is that there is always something new right around the corner. But technological obsolescence can lead to problems when it comes to disposal of last year’s favorite toy. How do we responsibly take care of our environment and still stay on the cutting edge?
Repair, reuse and recycle can all be part of a coordinated effort to minimize the effects of a growing volume of unwanted electronic debris. Most of the trash I’m referring to is not bio degradable and needs to be addressed as a separate issue from household trash and other items that can safely go to landfills. Electronic devices and circuit boards contain heavy metals like cadmium, gold copper and others as well as some non-reusable plastics that can create unique hazards and require more thought for their disposal.
The Environmental Protection Agency and other governmental entities and volunteer groups provide us with some estimates of just how much electronic rubbish we are accumulating and what is currently happening to it. The latest figures I found were for 2008 (2009 figures should be out in Nov or Dec). To summarize, we’re discarding about 30 million TVs per year and recycling about 18 percent of them. Close to 50 million computers bite the dust every year with about 18 percent being recycled. Even worse, the recycle rate for cell phones (one of the easiest to recycle-also one of the easiest to pitch) is only about 10 percent and we are obsolescing about 150 million of those a year. Add to these all the printers and other computer peripherals and you can see that the problem is already big and almost certain to grow.
What can we do? Locally we have “Keep Albany-Dougherty Beautiful (KADB)” and in addition to their regular recycle locations; they also take electronic rubbish at their 2106 Habersham Road location. There they maintain a trailer for storage of electronic discards and send them off to Atlanta periodically. You should call ahead to 430-5257 and let them know when you are dropping off. The only charge is for TV sets which apparently contain a large amount of lead and cost $10 for disposal.
This coming Saturday, Sept. 18, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., KADB is having an Electronic Recycling Collection Day at the Civic Center for your convenience. Bring anything electronic (does not include vacuum cleaners, refrigerators, etc and the $10 TV fee applies). Remember to bring only electronic rubbish to this event: their regular locations are open for aluminum cans, newspapers, plastic, cardboard and glass as usual.
If you want to peruse some of the state and national initiatives regarding electronics disposal, try the EPA Website or the National Center for Electronics Recycling site.