ecycling

No eche su teléfono usado a perder

Por Lina Younes

El otro día estaba mirando los anuncios en el periódico para teléfonos móviles, computadoras, televisores y otros efectos electrónicos. Aun cuando no estoy pensando en comprar nada especial, me gusta ver las novedades en el mercado. Los últimos avances en tecnología móvil son difíciles de resistir aun para los compradores más frugales. Es curioso, pero cuando insinúo que hay una posibilidad remota de que podríamos comprar teléfonos celulares nuevos para la familia, mis hijos rápidamente declaran que las últimas novedades en tecnología móvil son “definitivamente imprescindibles”.

Mientras las últimas novedades y aplicaciones móviles disponibles son fantásticas, piense cuidadosamente si realmente necesita un teléfono celular nuevo. ¿Su teléfono actual está averiado, no se puede reparar o todavía se puede usar? ¿Ha pensado en donarlo o reciclarlo?

Los productos electrónicos, como celulares y computadoras, podrían contener valiosos materiales como metales preciosos. Al reciclarlos, usted puede conservar recursos naturales y evitar la contaminación del agua y del aire generada durante el proceso de manufactura. Al reciclar un millón de teléfonos celulares, podemos recuperar 35,000 libras de cobre, 772 libras de plata, 75 libras de oro, y 33 libras de paladio. A su vez, estos materiales recuperados pueden ser reutilizados en la elaboración de nuevos productos.

Algunos fabricantes ofrecen la opción para donar o reciclar efectos electrónicos en sus tiendas. Usted puede ver qué compañías tienen centros de acopio o centros de reciclaje en su área. Las organizaciones comunitarias también colaboran con negocios al detal para auspiciar eventos de reciclaje de efectos electrónicos. Se sorprendería al ver cuántos efectos electrónicos son reciclados en estos eventos.

Si decidió que su teléfono celular actual está en perfectas condiciones y no necesita uno nuevo, podríamos tener una aplicación disponible para usted. Vea nuestro sitio Web donde encontrará casi 300 aplicaciones móviles que le ayudarán a entender y proteger el medio ambiente. Esta tecnología móvil está al alcance de su mano. Solo tiene que hacer clic.

Acerca de la autora: Lina M. F. Younes ha trabajado en la Agencia de Protección Ambiental de EE.UU. desde el 2002 y se desempeña, en la actualidad, como portavoz hispana de la Agencia, así como enlace de asuntos multilingües de EPA. Además, ha laborado como la escritora y editora de los blogs en español de EPA durante los pasados cuatro años. Antes de unirse a la Agencia, dirigió la oficina en Washington, DC de dos periódicos puertorriqueños y ha laborado en varias agencias gubernamentales a lo largo de su carrera profesional en la Capital Federal.

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.

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Switzerland – The Land of Alps, Watches, Chocolate and …. Extreme Recycling

By Paula Zevin

Garbage Ball Geneva

Garbage Ball Geneva

Everyone knows how serious we are about recycling and its benefits at EPA. The past decade has shown that we can change our mindset and adapt to change: throwing things away without a second thought is a thing of the past. If you need a reminder, check out the EPA community website, which contains so much valuable information on helping to protect our environment and our recycling resource page.

We also have heard or even seen how much more serious Europe in general is about the 3-R mantra. “Reduce, reuse and recycle” is not just a buzz phrase; it is a way of life in the Old World, which in many cases is way ahead of the United States. Switzerland was one of these revelations. The occasion to visit this beautiful country came about almost as an afterthought to attending my 40th high school reunion in Heidelberg, Germany in June of this year. Reunions can be fun, but also stressful, so a little R&R in the beautiful cities of Zurich and Geneva seemed just what the doctor ordered. And it was! Past and present blend seamlessly, the scenery is truly breathtaking, the friendly locals made us feel welcome and it didn’t hurt to be able to sample delicious chocolate, raclette and Movenpick ice cream!

As an EPAer, I never quite leave the environmentalist behind. The sight of so many distinctive bags all over Zurich piqued my curiosity. So I asked at our hotel. The answer, “Oh, they are our special waste/recycling bags” led to some investigating and some illuminating answers. They’re called “Züri-Säcke” or “Zuri-Bags” and according to the city’s website, about 30,000 are picked up daily. What Zurichers don’t recycle at the ubiquitous drop-off points for plastic, glass, etc, must go into these special bags. The catch is that they are quite expensive. The bigger the bag, the more you pay. If you’re not already so inclined, the incentive to reduce, reuse and recycle becomes purely economic. In addition to familiar advice, such as dropping off your electronics, textiles and other household items at recycling centers, such as we have in my home county of Somerset, NJ, you are encouraged to take all your outdated or broken electrical appliances back to the store where you bought them – they are obligated to accept them at no charge to you! The advice is given in a gentle, yet firm way. Check out the English website for how to deal with modern life’s trappings.

Recycling Advertisement

Recycling Advertisement

Geneva does things in a similar manner, noting with pride that “Genevans recycled 45% of their waste in 2011 up from 37% in 2003 (recycling in the city of Geneva is lower, at only 36.2% in 2011).” For more information on this and on Geneva’s recycling programs visit the English language website.

Geneva took the visual impact of being environmentally responsible to a different level. They are displaying a ball of garbage weighing 35 tons at Place du Plainpalais in Geneva. This was after officials started a campaign to encourage citizens to dispose of their garbage responsibly. The 35-tons of garbage represent the amount of waste that is collected from public trash cans over a period of three days.

We are doing so much already in New York City and in the surrounding areas to reduce, reuse and recycle. These glimpses into another culture remind us that the work is never done and that it is upon us to do it.

About the Author: Paula Zevin is currently an Environmental Engineer in the Division of Environmental Science and Assessment at the Edison Environmental Center. Her work is centered on the technical and programmatic aspects of ambient water monitoring. She is also the volunteer water monitoring coordinator for EPA Region 2. Paula has been with EPA since 1991, and has worked in the chemical, pharmaceutical, textile and cosmetic industries prior to joining EPA. 

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.

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Remember to E-Cycle!

By Lina Younes

Electronic items are popular gifts for dads and recent grads. Items such as computers, widescreen TVs, game stations, camcorders, eReaders and mobile phones quickly come to mind as ideal gifts for that special person. Personally, I like looking at the ads for electronic items in the Sunday paper to see the latest gadgets available in the market. To me it’s fascinating to see the latest technological developments in electronics. It’s hard not to resist buying the latest computer that is much faster, much lighter, and has a longer-lasting battery.

However, if you decide to buy the latest game system, computer, or cellphone, what are you planning to do with the old one? Have you heard of eCycling? You can donate computers, TVs, cellphones to non-profit organizations to extend the life-cycle of those items. I’m sure they may still have more years of good use. However, there is another option that is even better for the environment. How about recycling your used and unwanted electronic items? That’s known as eCycling!

The process of eCycling allows many of the valuable metals and components in those electronics to be reused in other useful products. Did you know that most electronic products contain valuable resources such as precious metals and engineered plastics which require considerable energy to manufacture? By recycling, these valuable materials are recovered for future reuse. During this process, virgin resources are conserved and there is a lower environmental impact overall. To put these numbers in context, did you know that in the United States by recycling approximately 414,000 tons of electronics in 2007, the release of greenhouse gases prevented was the equivalent of the annual emissions of more than 178,000 cars?

So, whether you’re recycling a computer or a cellphone or a TV, check with the store where you’re buying the new electronics. They will likely have an eCycling program available so you can safely retire your used electronic products. Furthermore, states, municipalities and schools have computer collection programs for their residents from time to time to help protect the environment.

Just some ideas on how to go green with your electronics. Any suggestions? We will love to hear from you.

About the author: Lina Younes is the Multilingual Outreach and Communications Liaison for EPA. Among her duties, she’s responsible for outreach to Hispanic organizations and media. She spearheaded the team that recently launched EPA’s new Spanish website, www.epa.gov/espanol . She manages EPA’s social media efforts in Spanish. She’s currently the editor of EPA’s new Spanish blog, Conversando acerca de nuestro medio ambiente. Prior to joining the agency, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and an international radio broadcaster. She has held other positions in and out of the Federal Government.

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.

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Spring Cleaning and Greening: How to Get Rid of Your Old Electronics and Household Hazardous Waste

By Dan Gallo

Click the map to find HHW and e-waste collection events near you!It’s that time of  year again – time to clean out old items from those closets, basements and garages!

In your spring cleaning, you’ll likely come across old electronics – like TVs, computers, printers, scanners, fax machines, and cell phones – or Household Hazardous Waste – like paints, cleaners, oils, batteries, and pesticides – and you may not be sure how to properly dispose of them.

Electronic products are made from valuable resources and highly engineered materials, which require energy to mine and manufacture.  Reusing and recycling electronics conserves natural resources and energy and averts any pollution involved in the manufacturing process. Some of the materials in electronics (such as lead, nickel, cadmium, and mercury) could pose risks to human health or the environment if disposed of improperly.

Leftover household products that contain corrosive, toxic, ignitable, or reactive ingredients are considered to be household hazardous wastes.  These too require special care when you’re purging them from your home, so resist the inclination to leave them on the curb with the rest of your trash, and do not pour such liquid products down the drain!
If you have old items like these, they can be taken to upcoming household hazardous wastes collection events.  Used electronics can also be taken to certain household hazardous wastes collection events.

The counties of southeastern Pennsylvania have recently developed a new, interactive web map to inform residents of upcoming HHW and Electronics Collection events near them.  The Mid-Atlantic Region’s eCycling web page also has links to electronics recycling information in each Mid-Atlantic State and the District of Columbia.

Find out more about eCycling here!  What are you doing with your old electronic devices and household hazardous wastes?

About the Author: Dan Gallo has been with EPA since 1989 and has been the Electronics Recycling Coordinator for the region’s Land and Chemicals Division since 2007.  He has also served as Enforcement Coordinator for the region’s TSCA Lead-Based Paint Program.  Dan has also been involved in sustainability partnership activities with federal agencies and private institutions, along with a federal green building certification project.  When not in the office, Dan likes running, golf and volunteer work.  He and his family reside in Brookhaven, PA.

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.

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A Brooklyn Experience | eCycling

By Linda Longo

If you’re anything like me, you’ve accumulated – over the course of time – all sorts of electronic “junk.”  I’m talking about transistor radios from those 70’s beach days, beepers, cell phones, an old black and white TV perhaps or, at the least, a pre-flat screen. Throw in some household items like a malfunctioning toaster, a broken blender and miscellaneous batteries, and you know what I mean.

In my small Brooklyn apartment closet sat a bulging bag of miscellaneous electronics and related “stuff” just waiting to be recycled.   My husband would ask why I don’t just take this bag into work since I work at EPA for ‘crying out loud.’  I’d tell him that my office is an office just like his and we do periodic cleanups and recycling events, but I often miss the opportunity – and, who wants to schlep all this stuff on the subway and into Manhattan? Recycling happens at the local, community level anyway. Right?

Ella at Best Buy eCycling station

I promised him this bag will be gone the next time I see an electronic recycling event conveniently located within blocks of our apartment.  That never happened. Finally, after growing tired of his prodding and my procrastinating, I decided to act. Last weekend, on a mission to Best Buy for new electronics, I decided to check on whether they took some of this electronic waste. A quick glance at their web site told me they did, but it was unclear about the toaster and the old lamp buried at the bottom of my bag.  We hauled our oddities into Best Buy at Brooklyn’s Atlantic Terminal and sure enough they took everything – lamp and all!  The area for drop off was right in the entrance.  The staffer on duty told me the items don’t even have to be one of their products.  Someone before me had dropped off a monstrous TV – the kind ‘back in the day’ before flat screens.  They placed green stickers on my items to show that these are not waiting for repair, but rather for recycling.  She told me that, in this particular store, on average about 10 people drop off electronics each day and they are the stuff is taken into the back room, sorted by staff for pick up from an outside electronics recycling company.   I left the store with a feeling of accomplishment for doing the right thing and not tossing my old toaster into the trash; which would have been so easy to do, but I would have had a guilty conscience for contributing to the overburden landfills.

I am now a vigilante, I’ve searched the web, come up with some terrific links, learned that many organizations, including other companies like Sony, eBay, Dell and Staples – to name just a few – have programs to take your old electronics.  And, some will take that old lamp and broken toaster!

Check out some of our EPA e-cycling resources: http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/conserve/materials/ecycling/donate.htm.

http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/conserve/materials/ecycling/live.htm

About the Author: Linda started her career with EPA in 1998 working in the water quality program. For the past 7 years she’s helped regulated facilities understand how to be in compliance with EPA enforcement requirements. Outside of work Linda enjoys exploring neighborhoods of NYC, photographing people in their everyday world, and sewing handbags made from recycled materials that she gives to her friends.

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.

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eCycling: the Future is NOW!

By Elizabeth Myer

A few years back, Greening the Apple blogger Sophia Kelley and I worked with the EPA on a series of Electronics Recycling (eCycling) initiatives. eCycling, for those not familiar with the term, is the process of reclaiming electronics from the waste stream, either as whole units ready to be re-used by another consumer, or as parts for materials recovery. I won’t speak for Sophia, but I first became a personal advocate for promoting proper eCycling practices in 2009 when EPA partnered with the band O.A.R. for their Green Dream recycling tour. In October of that year, EPA and the College Music Journal (CMJ) got together during the epic annual CMJ Music Marathon. CMJ went “green” and we helped by setting up shop in their exhibition room with a box for recycling used and unwanted cell phones, cameras, chargers and other electronics. We even went on to record a podcast on the subject!

E-waste on the banks of the Hackensack River (EPA photo)

So why, after all this time, is eCycling still an issue that I feel the need to explore? Perhaps because so many people are still clueless about how serious and widespread this issue is. The desire shared by many Americans to constantly upgrade to the latest cell phone/iProduct/tablet has contributed to a scary reality: electronic waste (e-waste) is growing 2-3 times faster than any other waste stream! Why should that concern you? For one, electronic devices are often composed of materials (lead, nickel, cadmium, and mercury) that could pose risks to the environment and human health if not disposed of properly. Another great reason to donate your used electronics (so long as they still work) is for the benefit of others who may not be able to afford them otherwise.                   

A colleague recently reminded me of an episode of 30 Rock which mocked the reality that New Yorkers often have drawers and closets stuffed with old, unwanted electronics. The segment indicates that many people know that e-waste is bad, but they have no clue where or how to dispose of their old chargers, laptops, cell phones, etc.  EPA has an eCycling locator, complete with links to external sites (like Earth 911) with great resources for finding eCycling centers near your home.

A final tip: don’t forget to erase all personal and confidential data on the old equipment before sending it for recycling or reuse. Happy eCycling!

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.

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Got an old cell phone?

cell phonesDo you know what to do with your old cell phone when it stops working or when you buy a new one?

You  might decide to keep the old one as a back-up in case or you could pass it along to a friend that might not have one.  This is a great way to recycle or reuse!

Sometimes people throw  away old cell phones in the same fashion we throw away other items we don’t use anymore. Our electronics are made up of lots of resources like metal, plastic, and glass, which can be recycled and used to make other devices. These resources are valuable and take lots of energy to make. Many electronics contain elements that take time to find in the earth’s natural environment.  By throwing away these items, we’re wasting non-renewable energy (like gas or fossil fuel) instead of trying to reuse them in some way.

Most electronics also contain parts that can’t be broken down in the environment – they aren’t biodegradable.  If they don’t biodegrade they have the potential to sit in landfills taking up more and more space.  Some may even start to leak harmful liquids and substances into the ground like lead and mercury.  These toxins can make their way into our water supply and pollute it.

What if we donated used electronics for reuse? It would extend the lives of valuable products. Recycling electronics prevents valuable materials from going into the waste stream.  One of the best way to get rid of old electronics is to recycle, reuse, and refurbish!

Here are some ways to eCycle electronics:

1. Check manufacturer’s websites for recycling programs. Sometimes you can save a percentage on your next purchase by recycling!
2. Donate electronics to charities. Some charities are even recycling old phones!
3. Ask friends or family if they want your used electronic item.
4. Check with local electronic stores for recycling kiosk.

If you have any questions or are searching for resources, check the EPA’s website on eCycling for more information:
http://www.epa.gov/osw/conserve/materials/ecycling/

Wendy Dew is the Environmental Education and Outreach Coordinator for Region 8 in Denver, Colorado.

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.

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Question of the Week: After you buy a new computer, what do you do with the old one?

Each week we ask a question related to the environment. Please let us know your thoughts as comments. Feel free to respond to earlier comments or post new ideas. Previous questions.

Last week, we asked what you think about when you buy a new computer. Now we want to know about the old ones. You can “ecycle,donate them to charity, give them to a friend, etc. Some people store them because they’re not quite sure what to do.

After you buy a new computer, what do you do with the old one?

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En español: Cada semana hacemos una pregunta relacionada al medio ambiente. Por favor comparta con nosotros sus pensamientos y comentarios. Siéntase en libertad de responder a comentarios anteriores o plantear nuevas ideas. Preguntas previas.

La semana pasada, le preguntamos sobre lo que piensa al comprar una nueva computadora. Ahora queremos saber qué hace con las viejas. Puede reciclar los aparatos electrónicos al donarlos a entidades caritativas, o a algún amigo, etc. Algunas personas las almacenan porque no tienen claro qué hacer con ellas.

¿Después que compra una computadora nueva, qué hace con la computadora vieja?

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.

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