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Are you recycling your old electronics?

October 28, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
When it comes to recycling, more than half of us are doing pretty well with bottles and cans, and even better with paper and plastic. That's according to the Consumer Reports National Research center. But we're not doing so well with our old electronics. And that's cause for concern. Most of us have dead computers, broken cell phones, and other old electronic equipment cluttering our homes. And, with the holidays coming up we might have even more electronics we need to get rid of. My job is to show you how to get rid of it all safely.

In Samantha Boege's basement, she stores her old fax machine and her old computer, which sits as a good resting spot for her old stereo component.

"I don't even know where to get rid of any of the electronics," said Samantha Boege.

"It can be tricky finding places to recycle your old electronics," said Urvashi Rangan from Consumer Reports.

A Consumer Reports National Research Center survey of more than 2,000 Americans reveals only about 11 to 17 percent are recycling electronics.

"Cell phones can be loaded with toxic metals such as arsenic, cadmium, and mercury," explained Rangan. "Old television and computer monitors can contain up to eight pounds of lead. When they break in a landfill they can pose an environmental and a neurological hazard."

Where do you start?

First, look for a recycling center that takes computers, television sets and other electronics. They dismantle and separate parts, and remove toxic metals. Retailers like Best Buy, Office Depot, and Staples also accept electronic devices, as do many manufacturers.

Consumer Reports says to find a location to drop off your electronics, you can check out www.earth911.com. You type in what you want to recycle and your zip code, and you get a list of centers in your area. And remember, before you recycle an old cell phone or computer, be sure to remove your personal information.

Consumer reports says be aware, there are many unscrupulous recyclers that ship electronics overseas, where they get dumped. To find a responsible recycler, look for one that's signed the electronics recycler's pledge of true stewardship. It's a promise that e-waste will not be exported or simply dumped in a landfill.


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