E-waste – or electronic waste, is composed of old, obsolete, or damaged computers, printers and printer refills, fax machines, and other technological wastes. Many cities and states have started taking measures in regulating the disposal of these wastes (the most recent of which is the state of West Virginia, which will start on January 1, 2011) – as many of them pose a danger to health and the environment.
Here are five ways you can dispose of your e-waste safely.
1) If you still have the old boxes and original packing material of your old or broken device, consider wrapping the item in it prior to disposal. This will not only make the job easier for your sanitation worker, it will also prevent the item from being crushed during transport – resulting in sharp metal or plastic shards and nasty chemical leaks.
2) As previously mentioned, old electronics can harbor hidden chemicals than can leak into the ground, so fight the temptation to flatten or smash up your e-wastes for “easy disposal”. Sure, that Youtube video of a guy beating up an old monitor with a baseball bat looks like fun, but it can lead to some very serious consequences for the environment.
3) If dumping e-wastes en masse, sort all items into piles according to composition. Put all plastic items such as old keyboards and mice together, glass items such as old monitors in one pile, and old printers and printer consumables in one heap. This will make it easier to recycle, if your local recycling center does accept e-waste.
4) If there is an electronics repair shop in your area, ask them if they would like to take your fairly new but already irreparably broken electronic items off your hands instead of taking them to be dumped. Some parts may still be scavenged from these broken items, and they can be used to repair items that can still be saved.
5) Consider refilling old printer cartridges instead of tossing them when they run dry. There are refilling kits available online, and each kit comes with several small bottles of fresh ink, a specialized syringe for injecting the fresh ink into the empty chambers, and a detailed list of instructions on how to accomplish the entire procedure. Each refilled ink cartridge is one less item in the landfill.