Never before has technology progressed at such a rapid rate. Cutting-edge products are being rendered obsolete at an ever-increasing pace, replaced by newer, faster and sleeker versions. This dizzying electronic evolution gives us the tools to meet challenges, but also creates challenges; how should we dispose of the old stuff to make way for the new? Sure, the waste basket or your local landfill might seem like obvious choices for the fate of your electronic waste, or e-waste, but the hazardous content of many electronic devices poses a serious threat to our environment.
Even the most innocent-seeming gadgets often harbor potentially toxic substances. Circuit boards, CRT monitors and TVs, for instance, all contain lead. And the cadmium, nickel, zinc and brominated flame-retardant materials found in other common electronics arenít any more environmentally friendly. Thatís why itís critical that these high tech gadgets be properly disposed of, so they donít find their way into our food or water supply.
What should you do with your e-waste? Well, thanks to the stateís Electronic Equipment Recycling and Reuse Act of 2010 (Ch. 99 of 2010), getting rid of unwanted electronic equipment has never been easier. Beginning April 1, 2011, manufacturers are required to set up a free, convenient system for the collection, handling and recycling or reuse of certain e-waste, including computers, televisions, small-scale servers, computer peripherals and small electronic equipment. This complements New York Stateís Wireless Recycling Act of 2007, which requires all telephone service providers that sell phones, to accept cell phones for reuse or recycling.
And though youíre not currently required to recycle your e-waste, the timeís coming. Starting in January 2012, businesses and municipalities, including your local sanitation worker, will no longer be able to dispose of e-waste in landfills or waste-to-energy facilities. And on Jan.1, 2015, individuals and households will be required to do the same. The message is clear: New Yorkís landfills canít be filled with old, toxic electronic gadgets or equipment. The risk to our health and environmental damage is simply too great.
For more information, visit the state Department of Environmental Conservationís website at www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/8788.html. Alternatively, you can contact my office at 718-257-5824 or firstname.lastname@example.org and request a free e-waste pamphlet.