e-cycling

Don’t Let That Used Phone Go To Waste

By Lina Younes

The other day, I was looking through the newspaper ads checking out cell phones, computers, TVs and other electronics. Even though I’m not planning to buy anything special right now, I like to see what the market has to offer. The latest developments in mobile technology and electronics are hard to resist, though, even for the most frugal shopper. It’s funny, but when I even hint at getting new cell phones for the family, my children quickly declare that the new features are “must-haves.”

While the new features and available applications might be great, think carefully about whether you really need a new phone. Is your current phone damaged beyond repair, or can you still use it? Have you thought of donating or recycling it?

Electronic products, like cell phones and computers, contain valuable materials like precious metals. By recycling them, you can conserve natural resources and avoid water and air pollution generated during the manufacturing process. Recycling a million cell phones means we can recover 35,000 pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold, and 33 pounds of palladium. In turn, these recovered materials can be reused to manufacture new products.

Some retailers offer the option to donate or recycle electronics at their stores. You can check out which companies have recycling centers in your area.  Community organizations also work with retailers to host e-cycling events. You’d be surprised how many electronics are recycled at these events.

If you decide that your current cell phone is perfectly fine and you don’t need a new one, we might have a green mobile app available for you. Check out our site for nearly 300 apps that will help you understand and protect the environment. This green technology is just a click away.

 About the author:  Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and currently serves the Multilingual Communications Liaison for EPA. She manages EPA’s social media efforts in Spanish. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

Help Put the “E’s” in E-Cycling

By Grace Parrish

Since childhood, recycling has been an effortless task that was part of my daily routine. Using five bins labeled: aluminum, plastic, glass, paper, and tin, I thought I was the bee’s knees when it came to being eco-friendly. During my internship at the EPA this fall, I realized that although it is beneficial to keep these items out of the waste stream, I was mistaken in thinking my responsibility ended there. I always recycled my yogurt cups, pizza boxes, and cell phone boxes, but never thought about where the phone itself ends up. My role in recycling must extend a bit further to “e-cycling,” otherwise known as the recycling of electronics.

In this era, everyone’s buzzing with the newest laptops, cell phones, TVs, cameras, you name it! I am guilty of getting caught up in this hype. As a student at the University of Maryland, I must keep up with the latest trends and I rely on my cell phone and laptop daily to receive emails, check class information, research, and of course for everyone’s favorite, Facebook.

Now I find myself questioning where these devices end up once I’m done with them. During my time with the EPA, I gained a fresh perspective on electronics beyond tearing apart the box to a new cell phone received during the holidays.

According to the EPA, we generate almost 2.5 million tons of used electronics every year in the United States. By recycling electronics, we can do our part to improve the health of our environment. E-cycling lessens pollution, shrinks landfills, saves resources from manufacturing, and conserves precious metals, including gold and silver, and other materials used in production. EPA is working with big retailers and manufacturers in its Sustainable Materials Management Electronics Challenge to make sure they are recycling electronics in a safe and responsible manner.

So next time you bee-line it to the store for a gadget that is luring you in, think first if you really need it; when the urge inevitably takes over, rethink your options about where your previous electronics will go. Is donating to a family member, friend, or charity an option? If not, check out an electronics take-back location near you, simply visit: “Where Can I Donate or Recycle My Used Electronics?” We can do our part to put the “e’s”—electronics and environment, in e-cycling!

About the author: Grace Parrish is an intern for the EPA office of Resource Conservation and Recovery, and is intrigued by the impact of recycling electronics. She hopes that her pursuit of an Environmental Science and Policy degree at the University of Maryland, College Park will facilitate her in promoting the ideal of sustainability in a future career.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

Safer Chemicals for a Safer World: Celebrate P2 Week!

By Kristie Friesenhahn

As Tom Hanks said in You’ve Got Mail, “Don’t you love New York in the fall? It makes me want to buy school supplies.” Today launches Pollution Prevention (P2) Week, and with that in mind, we can make sure Back to School season is a little greener. The theme of this year’s P2 week is “Safer Chemicals for a Safer World.” As we get settled into the new school year, consider these tips for celebrating P2 Week.

Pollution Prevention Public Service Announcement

Bring green chemistry to your school. Promote safe chemical management and encourage teachers and students to use green chemistry principles in the classroom, considering the lifecycle of the chemicals they work with and their impact on the environment and creating awareness of chemical toxicology and sustainability. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) is conducting green chemistry pilot projects for New York’s high schools as an innovative and safer approach to chemistry. The pilot projects will include chemical assessment, inventorying, and training workshops. Read more information on green chemistry.

Cleaning your home or dorm room? Search for safer products recognized under EPA’s Design for the Environment Safer Product Labeling Program. By doing so, your family can eliminate 40 pounds of potentially harmful chemicals per year. 40 pounds! That’s more than the weight limit for a dog at your average NYC apartment!

If you’re cleaning out your medicine cabinet, remember to safely dispose of your medications. Mark your calendar for Saturday, September 29th (10am – 2pm) and visit the DEA NationalDrug Take-Back Initiative website to find a location near you.

Purchasing a new computer this school year? Search for EPEAT®-registered electronics. EPEAT® is a comprehensive environmental rating that helps identify electronics designed to be easier to recycle, less toxic and more energy efficient. Also, EPEAT® is expected to expand late this year and early next to cover printers, copiers and televisions!

E-cycle the computer you’ve replaced with the EPEAT® registered one. Read about a fellow Greening the Apple blogger’s successful Brooklyn experience with e-cycling.

About the author: Kristie Friesenhahn has been with the EPA for over five years working on issues related to pollution prevention and toxics, including developing best practices to prevent consumer and worker exposure to chemicals.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

Promoting Electronics Recycling and New Jobs

This post is cross-posted from The Huffington Post.

By Administrator Lisa P. Jackson

At the ROUND2 electronics recycling facility in Austin, Texas, American workers dismantle, sort, test and repair a steady stream of discarded printers, computers and other electronics. The millions of pounds of electronic waste that ROUND2 processes each year are kept out of landfills here and abroad, and the valuable materials in them are reused. In addition, ROUND2’s e-cycling business is also creating good jobs. The company has put several hundred people to work nationwide, and just last February the Austin facility announced plans to hire 52 more technical staff members.

Seeing the economic and environmental opportunities in e-cycling, I visited ROUND2’s Austin campus today, where I stood with Michael Dell, CEO of Dell Inc., Dan Hesse, CEO of Sprint, Mark Price, Vice President of Sony Electronics, and several government officials to announce the Obama administration’s National Strategy for Electronics Stewardship. To fortify the National Strategy, we also announced a commitment from Dell, Sprint and Sony to use private sector business practices that will strengthen our homegrown e-cycling industry and create jobs for American workers.

Government and industry are working together to tackle an environmental and health issue in a way that supports innovation, cuts costs and creates good jobs. It’s an important effort at an important time. Already, the United States generates some 2.5 million tons of electronic waste per year. Not only do those discarded electronics contain potentially dangerous chemicals and pollutants, they also have precious metals, rare earth materials, plastic and glass that can be recovered and recycled, reducing the economic costs and environmental impacts of securing and processing new materials for new products.

It is also critically important that we undertake this National Strategy with the active involvement of the private sector. Dell, which Newsweek ranked as 2010’s greenest company in the United States, has been a leader in responsible electronics management. Dell has worked for years to improve e-waste recovery, and also partnered with the EPA on efforts that reduced the amount of lead in their products by more than 19 million pounds. Sprint has already collected more than 25 million discarded mobile phones. Sprint has set an ambitious goal that, by 2017, they will be reusing or recycling nine phones for every 10 they sell. Sony has partnered with EPA since 2004 and collected and recycled almost 3 million pounds of used consumer electronics.
To effectively tackle e-waste, we need to think about everything from how to design more efficient and sustainable technology, to making sure consumers have widespread access to recycling drop off locations and other options for easily donating or recycling used electronics. Private sector involvement is instrumental to ensuring that the process of research, innovation, development and commercialization of a new product is not complete without also focusing on recycling.

Of course, EPA and its federal government partners have a role to play as well. President Obama has called on us — as the nation’s largest consumer of electronics — to lead by example on electronics stewardship. The National Strategy we are announcing today explains how the federal government will:
Promote the development of more efficient and sustainable electronic products;

  • Direct federal agencies to buy, use, reuse and recycle their electronics responsibly;
  • Support recycling options and systems for American consumers; and
  • Strengthen America’s role in international electronics stewardship.

The success of ROUND2 is just the beginning of creating jobs by increasing electronics recycling nationwide. The leadership of President Obama on this issue — combined with the commitments of companies like Dell, Sprint and Sony- – sends a very strong signal about the bright future of the e-cycling industry in this country. Fostering the growth of a market for electronics recycling can help American companies create good jobs in a field that supports cleaner communities today, and a cleaner future tomorrow.

The history of protecting our health and our environment is a history of innovation. Better ideas and new products have helped make almost everything we do cleaner, healthier and more energy-efficient. That history has also shown us that the engines of our economy run best when they run clean.
The National Strategy for Electronics Stewardship is another chapter of that history, in which environmental protection, innovation, and economic growth work hand in hand.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

E-Cycling

On Sunday night, I saw a computer monitor that had been left near the curb next to the trash cans four houses down from mine. My first thought was that some people are not really aware of the significant damage they cause the environment by tossing electronics along with their trash. I really hoped somebody would pick up this cast-off soon. Unfortunately, on Monday morning, my husband called me to say that he had seen municipal workers literally throwing a computer monitor into a public works pick up truck. The monitor broke into pieces as it landed in the truck’s bed. He was extremely worried about the harmful substances that would leak into the ground along with the regular trash once the monitor was disposed of in the landfill.

Obsolescence, development of new technologies and massive marketing campaigns that make people want to buy the latest models result in a fast-growing surplus of discarded electronic equipment around the world. Electronic equipment has revolutionized the way we communicate, but most of these items contain serious contaminants such as lead, cadmium, beryllium and brominated flame retardants that need to be carefully disposed of.

Many states have “diversion from landfill” legislation that requires electronic equipment to be collected and processed separately form garbage. In April 2000, Massachusetts became the first state in the U.S. to make it illegal to dispose of CRT (cathode ray tubes) in landfills. In Europe, these regulations and bans date to the 1990’s. As of 2008, 17 states in the U.S. had enacted responsibility laws and 35 states were considering electronic recycling laws. Earlier this year, the state of Washington passed legislation requiring manufacturers of electronic goods to pay for recycling and establishing a statewide network of collection points.

EPA has been working to educate consumers on reuse and safe recycling of electronics. This past Earth Day, two bills were passed by the House of Representatives to require EPA to give merit-based grants to universities, government labs and private industries to conduct research on the development of new approaches that would improve recycling and reduction of hazardous materials in electronic devices.

In our household, we throw out our unwanted electronics during an e-cycling drive. Last year, the local Engineers and Surveyors Association held a multi-city e-waste drive during which I not only disposed of an old computer monitor and fax, but also an old TV from my parent’s house. However, there are other options like donating the equipment for refurbishment and resale. The two latter are more common with cellular phones. All of them are much better than throwing electronics into the trash.

About the author: Brenda Reyes Tomassini joined EPA in 2002. She is a public affairs specialist in the San Juan, Puerto Rico office and also handles community relations for the Caribbean Environmental Protection Division.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

BASURA ELECTRONICA

Vi el monitor de computadora un domingo en la noche al lado de los contenedores de basura de una casa a cuatro residencias de la nuestra. De inmediato constaté que, aún con todos los esfuerzos de educación ambiental que hacemos, hay algunas personas que no entienden el daño que causan al ambiente tirando enseres electrónicos a la basura regular. Pensé que quizás alguien se lo llevaría antes que llegase el camión de basura. Sin embargo mi esposo me llamó el lunes en la mañana para indicarme como los trabajadores de recogido de desperdicios habían dispuesto del monitor tirandolo al camión de la basura y como este se hizo añicos ante sus ojos. Y fue así como nuestra mayor preocupación se tornó realidad. Este monitor que desprendía componentes y sustancias químicas peligrosas terminaría junto a la basura regular en el vertedero.

El advenimiento de nuevas tecnologías, la obsolencia de équipos electrónicos junto a campañas publicitarias que destacan las virtudes de tal o más cual equipo han creado a nivel mundial un exceso de electrónicos que son descartados cada año por un modelo más eficiente. Si bien han revolucionado la manera en la que nos comunicamos, no podemos perder de vista que muchos de estos equipos también contienen contaminantes como plomo, cadmio y berilio, entre otros, que necesitan ser dispuestos adecuadamente.

Muchos estados tienen legislación que prohibe de su disposición en los vertederos. Estos equipos deben ser recogidos y procesados fuera de la corriente regular. El estado de Massachussets fue el primero en hacer ilegal la disposición de tubos de rayo catódico (CTR, por sus siglas en inglés) en abril del 2000. En Europa muchas de estas leyes y estatutos de prohibición datan de los años 1990’s. En el 2008 17 estados de Estados Unidos habían creado leyes de responsabilidad y 35 estaban considerando establecer leyes de reciclaje de electrónicos. Al presente, el estado de Washington pasó legislación requiriendo a los manufactureros de equipos de este tipo pagar por el reciclaje de estos y establecer puntos de recogido a través del estado.

La EPA ha trabajado arduamente para educar a la ciudadanía sobre el reuso y el reciclaje seguro de estos equipos. Durante la conmemoración del Día Internacional de la Tierra este año la Legislatura aprobó dos medidas que le dan a la EPA la facultad de otorgar subvenciones a universidades, laboratorios del gobierno y la industria privada para llevar a cabo investigaciones sobre el desarrollo de nuevas formas de mejorar el reciclaje de electrónicos y reducir los componentes peligrosos en estos equipos.

En nuestro hogar llevamos nuestros equipos electrónicos al recogido anual que hace el Colegio de Ingenieros y Agrimensores. El año pasado llevé una computadora vieja y un fax junto a un televisor viejo de la casa de mis padres. Sin mebargo hay otras opciones como donar el equipo, revenderlo o arreglarlo. Las últimas dos son muy comunes con equipos como teléfonos. Cualquiera de estas opciones es mejor que tirarlo a la basura.

Sobre la autor: Brenda Reyes Tomassini se unió a la EPA en el 2002. Labora como especialista de relaciones públicas en la oficina de EPA en San Juan, Puerto Rico donde también maneja asuntos comunitarios para la División de Protección Ambiental del Caribe.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

Climate for Action: Put Your Old Cell Phones to Good Use

About the Author: Michelle Gugger graduated from Rutgers University in 2008. She is currently spending a year of service at EPA’s Region 3 Office in Philadelphia, PA as an AmeriCorps VISTA.

Cell phones are, on average, only used for 1 ½ years before they are replaced. However, only 10 percent of our replaced cell phones are actually recycled each year. According to the EPA, most people are not recycling their old cell phones because they are unsure of what they should do with them. For this reason, many people either save or throw out their old phones.

Fortunately, for the many of us looking to get rid of our old phones, recyclers have been able to make things easy for us. Many organizations will take our old cell phones and pay us for them. There are also many organizations that promise to help others if we donate our old cell phones to them. Here are a couple of the websites that will use our donated phones to benefit others:Link to EPA's External Link Disclaimer

  • The Collective Good website allows you to donate your phones to charities. Additionally, they promise to plant a tree for every box of cell phones they receive from you.
  • Donate your cell phones to American soldiers and you can help connect them with their families and friends overseas.
  • GRC Recycling is a website that will use your donated cell phones to support many charitable non-profit organizations.

Also visit http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/partnerships/plugin/cellphone/cell-recycling-locations.htm for lists of additional recyclers.

By donating your old cell phones to these or similar organizations, you will not only help a lot of people, but you will be able to help the environment too. 150 million cell phones are taken out of service each year, if Americans recycled just 2/3 of those cell phones, we could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 630,667 tons of CO2 and save enough energy to power more than 194,000 U.S. homes for a year. Donating your old cell phones is one easy way that we can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save energy. Informing your friends of where they can recycle their old cell phones or starting a collection at your school are both easy things that you can do to become a climate ambassador. I know that you probably have a lot of other great recycling ideas. What do you do with your old cell phones? Is there something that can be done at your school or in your community? Let us know your ideas on how we can reduce the waste we create from constantly replacing our cell phones. Also, check out what other things you can do to become a climate ambassador.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

Making an Easy Call

About the author: Jeff Maurer manages Web content and does communications work for the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response.

National Cell Phone Recycling Week is here April 6-12! I’m sure you already knew that – you’ve probably already carved a Cell Phone Recycling Week-O-Lantern and have bought a bunch of Cell Phone Recycling Week fireworks. What’s that? You haven’t? In that case, let me suggest a few ways to celebrate National Cell Phone Recycling Week that will make this the best National Cell Phone Recycling Week ever!

Recycle or donate your old cell phone and accessories at one of the events planned by our Plug in to eCycling partners. Some of the biggest names in telecommunications – including AT&T, Samsung, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless – are introducing a series of in-store promotions, contests, and giveaways as part of Cell Phone Recycling Week. The partners will provide in-store and online recycling opportunities for consumers, so recycling your cell phone is easier than ever!

Of course, you don’t need to recycle your old cell phone at one of these special events – just be sure to recycle it! Cell phones contain precious metals, copper, and plastics, all of which require energy to mine and manufacture. Recycling these materials not only conserves resources; it also prevents greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution, and water pollution. If all of the 100 million cell phones ready for end of life management in the U.S. were recycled, we would save enough energy to power more than 18,500 U.S. households for a year!

Use your current phone to call your parents and have them recycle or donate their old cell phones. I know for a fact that my mom has a couple old cell phones – many the size of a brick – collecting dust in a kitchen drawer. I think I’ll give her a call and let her know how easy it is to recycle her old cell phones.

In order to calm any fears Mom has about data theft, I’ll send her our cell phone recycling flyer (PDF) (1 pg, 433K, about PDF), which includes information about how to clear data from your phone before you donate. I’ll also let her know about free data-erasing tools that are available online.Link to EPA's External Link Disclaimer

That’s how I plan to celebrate, anyway – if you feel like singing Cell Phone Recycling Week carols or marching in a Cell Phone Recycling Week parade, don’t let me stop you.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.