(Photo Credit: George Hotelling/Flickr)
Huntsville, Ala.—Electronic waste, or E-waste, is a significant and growing problem in today’s electronic era. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), only 5 percent of the 40 million tons of E-Waste generated world-wide each year is ever recovered. Items considered to be E-Waste include old batteries, printer ink-cartridges, computers, cellphones, cameras and televisions among many other items.
Toxins found in E-Waste include chemicals such as lead, cadmium, chromium and mercury. These chemicals can have adverse effects on people’s organs and nervous systems leading to long-term health problems.
The E-Waste Institute, a collaboration between the Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University (AAMU) and Alabama Cooperative Extension System (ACES), is determined to fight the hazards of widespread improper E-Waste disposal. The mission of the E-Waste Institute is to teach the public about how to properly dispose of E-Waste through workshops, awareness campaigns, publications and E-cycling drives.
It may be easy to simply throw away your old batteries and ink-cartridges in the trash but, properly disposing E-Waste can easily fit into your daily household routine and contribute to a cleaner natural environment.
“If people regard E-Waste as another form of hazardous waste, it would make it easier for them to recycle items. In short, recycling E-Waste would become a common practice for them and they would seek out opportunities to properly dispose of unwanted electronics,” said Dr. Karnita Golson-Garner, an urban Extension specialist.
“The E-Waste collected through our small electronics recycling program (SERP) is shipped to Funding Factory, where it may be recycled or re-manufactured. Precious resources like aluminum and copper are also reclaimed during reclamation processes,” Dr. Golson-Garner said.
If you wonder what happens to the E-Waste after you’ve dropped it off at a recycling drive, in many cases the E-Waste has to be taken apart.
“If we are hosting a city-wide recycling drive, we will partner with a recycling company that is responsible for the recycling, re-manufacturing and reclamation processes. There are several companies that we work with including Tech Stars in Madison, Alabama. Funding Factory is the company that handles the items collected through our small electronics programs,” Dr. Golson-Garner said.
Upcoming E-cycling events include an E-Waste recycling drive in Dothan, Alabama, on April 23. Visit the E-Waste Institute website for more information about the dangers of E-Waste and upcoming events where you can recycle your E-Waste properly.
If you are looking for a convenient way to recycle your E-Waste consider disposing of your E-Waste at local businesses that provide recycling bins for various types of E-Waste. Such businesses include Target and Best Buy stores.