We recently hosted film night showing Terra Blight – a feature-length documentary exploring America’s consumption of computers and the hazardous waste we create in pursuit of the latest technology – at my university. Featured in the is film and leading our post film discussion were members of Creative Recycling. Creative Recycling was wonderful to discover! They started in Tampa in 1990 but are now up and down the east coast, in almost 19 states and growing. They provide state-of-the-art lifecycle management solutions for surplus, obsolete and end-of-life electronic products. Those leading our post film discussion were from the local Raleigh plant which is an actual processing facility, working with municipalities, businesses, schools, government, etc. Their goal is to teach others how to do recycling and then pick it up and process it from them
We need to shift focus and think of recycling electronics as a commodity (this is why they don’t call it e-WASTE) & job creation (they have 80-100 jobs at any one facility & growing!). They can generate money from just about every component of electronics they process. Their unique processing plant [photo!] allows for the recycling of electronic components in a single computerized process – up to 24,000 pounds of recyclables per hour (or 800 monitors) and in an environmentally safe manner taking less than five minutes for a single item to complete the recycling process!
Is Creative Recycling anywhere near you? Check out the map to see and stay tuned as they are growing nationally!
The newest Story of Stuff Project movie – The Story of Electronics – a look at the ‘design for the dump’ mentality so prevalent in the electronics industry. Worth a watch and worth passing on this great resource:
Booklist Online offers a nice annotated list of e-waste websites complied by Mary Ellen Quinn, such as the EPA’s eCyling Greenpeace’s annual Guide to Greener Electronics, and and Earth911. Visit the page for more details especially if you are looking for ways to get rid of old electronics in your library but don’t forget to share these links with your patrons and staff too.
This EPA eCycling page offers some information on recycling of electronic products like computers, tvs, cell phones, etc. There is some general information on reusing, recycling and buying green for electronics.You can search via a map for regional and State electronics recycling programs. There is a good list of organization if you are looking to donate or recycle your computer. They also offer some interesting statistics on end of life electronics if you are curious. The Regulations page dives into legislation and mandates on used electronics. Over all is a very useful online information resource for your library or your patrons.
If you know you will be upgrading computer/electronic equipment in the next year or two, but you know you are just adding to the growing hazardous electronic waste, check out TechForward. It’s a company that sells you a guaranteed buy back deal at the point of sale for you new device (iPod, computer, DVD, TV, etc). So for example, for about $60 the new MacBook Pro you are buying today can be traded in to TechForward in a year/18months for about $420. TechFoward will supply you a box and free shipping to send it back, and they either resell or recycle the device. CNET news.com has an article with more details on this young company’s venture capitalist business.
Be green with your old computer equipment (hard drives, monitors, printers, etc.) when you are getting new ones. There are several options:
- Can you keep your computer a year longer than the average 3 year rotation?
- Try donating it (and writing it off on taxes!). Many schools, non-profits, and charities will take computers refurbished by these recycling/refurbishing companies. Find ideas and lists here:
- Buy only from a computer company who will take back your old computer (such as Dell and Sony for FREE!). The Computer Take Back Campaign has a great PDF document that lists these details for you.
Earth 911 is a great site for finding out where to recycle all sorts of things. Put in your zip code and what you want to recycle and they provide a list of local places.
Also check out Gcycle (sponsored by Earth 911)- a multifaceted electronics recycling campaign. The site provids information on where to recycle “tech stuff.” I found the graphics a little annoying but the site is great. Their goal – to keep these toxic wastes out of landfills and make it as easy as possible for people to recycling such things as old cell phones, batteries, tvs, monitors, laptops, video tapes, etc
The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) has a site called myGreenElectronics which provides information on where to recycle lots of other electronics like flashlights and home theater equipment.
Lastly, don’t forget to check out Tech Soup for more general information on electronic recycling programs and ideas.
*In the end, remember to think before you buy so you can REDUCE and REUSE before you even get to RECYCLE*