Did you know that Fresno, Calif.-based Electronic Recyclers International is the largest electronics recycler in the country? This article in Fortune magazine says the company’s annual revenues of $50 million are expected to double by 2012. That says to me more people are recycling old computers, cell phones and electronics gadgets — rather than tossing them in the trash.
But, as Fortune’s Katie Benner notes in the same article, only about 156 to 20 percent of unwanted electronics are recycled. The rest — a staggering 206 million computer products and 140 million phones — are thrown away in the U.S. each year. And 70 percent of the heavy metals in our landfills leach from obsolete electronics, which can include toxic pollutants such as lead and mercury.
Most people know not to throw away electronics, but they’re not sure what to do with them. So old cell phones, computer monitors, hard drives, obsolete TVs and broken toys end up cluttering garages and closets. If you’d like to clear them out, do it responsibly. Many Goodwill centers accept e-waste (working and broken); check with yours.
If you live in the San Francisco area, proper disposal is a lot easier. These non-profits are happy to accept your unwanted e-waste:
Green Citizen, 161 Homer Ave., Palo Alto, 650-493-8700, ext 101, www.greencitizen.com
Earthcare Recycling, 2516 Seaboard Ave. San Jose, CA 95131; 408-943-9943, www.earthcarerecycling.com
United Datatech, 627 Walsh Ave., Santa Clara, 408-986-0539, www.uniteddatatech.com
Allied Waste, 225 Shoreway Road, San Carlos, 650-592-0255: takes computers, small electronics and computer peripherals
It’s always easier to declutter a space if you know your unwanted items are going to a good home. In the case of e-waste, it’s a cinch to let go if you know your old electronics will be responsibly recycled.