electronic waste

#EarthDayEveryday

This Earth Day, let’s commit ourselves, our families, and our communities to work toward a brighter environmental future. I’ll be taking part in a service learning project tomorrow with Washington, DC’s Earth Conservation Corps to help clean up the Anacostia River, and I encourage you to serve at an Earth Day event in your community.

But there’s no need to wait until Earth Day—there’s a lot we can do every day to help protect the environment and the climate, while keeping our families healthy and saving money.

Here are just a few ideas:

Reduce food waste. The average family throws away $1,600 a year on wasted food, and rotting food in landfills releases methane, a powerful greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide. This toolkit can help your family save money and reduce their climate impact with some basic planning and organizing. And by composting food scraps, you can help feed the soil and keep your plants and gardens healthy.

Look for EPA labels when you shop. EPA’s Energy Star, WaterSense, and Safer Choice labels help Americans choose products that save them money, reduce energy and water use, and keep their homes safer from harmful chemicals. Products that carry these labels are backed by trusted EPA science.

 

Wash your clothes in cold water. 90 percent of your washing machine’s energy goes toward heating water, while just 10 percent goes toward running the motor. Consider switching to cold water—along with cold-water detergent—and save your family money on your electric bill.

 

Make your home more energy efficient. EPA’s ENERGY STAR program goes beyond labeling energy efficient products. Our new Home Advisor tool can help you create a prioritized list of energy efficient home improvement projects tailored specifically to your home.

 

 

Learn how to fix water leaks. The average family loses over 10,000 gallons of water each year to leaks. This guide will show you how to find and fix leaks in your home so you can conserve water and save on your water bill.

 

 

 

E-cycle your electronic waste. Spring is a great time to clean and de-clutter. If you’re looking to finally get rid of that old TV, computer or mobile device, this guide can help you find safe ways to recycle it in your state.

 

 

 

Green your commute. To get exercise and limit your carbon footprint, walk, bike, or take public transportation whenever you can. Leaving your car at home just 2 days a week can prevent 2 tons of carbon pollution every year.

When you drive, look for gas containing biofuel to help reduce carbon pollution from your vehicle. To maximize gas mileage, get regular tune-ups, and keep your tires fully inflated. And if you’re in the market for a new car, consider making your next vehicle a fuel-efficient, low greenhouse-gas model and save money on fuel.

EPA is taking national action to fight climate change and protect the environment, but we can all take small steps to keep our families healthy, make our homes safer, and save money. When we do, we help protect the one planet we’ve got.

What will you do? Let us know at #EarthDayEveryday

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations.

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.

What Should We Do With Our Old Phones?

By Lina Younes

Haga clic en la imagen para unirse a la conversación en nuestro blog en español… ¡No olvide de suscribirse!

With the advances in mobile technologies, it is hard not to buy one of these new smartphones. The marketplace has numerous mobile tools with the latest applications in wireless communication. These smartphones promise to do everything faster,  with a longer battery life and a higher resolution. So, when you finally decide to purchase a new mobile phone, what do you do with your old one that is still in good condition? You have two options:  You can donate it or even better yet, recycle it!

Cell phones have precious materials such as copper, silver, gold and palladium that can be recovered and recycled. By recycling these materials, you are conserving natural resources, avoiding air and water pollution as well as the emission of greenhouse gases that are generated during the manufacturing process of virgin materials. Did you know that in 2009, discarded electronics such as cell phones, TVs, computers, scanners, fax machines, and keyboards, among others, amounted to 2.37 million tons of electronic waste?

Many retailers across the United States, Puerto Rico and Guam have programs where you can drop off or mail in your used mobile phones. Also charitable organizations have cell phone recycling programs. So, find out more about cell phone recycling programs in your community. By recycling your used phone, you’ll be also protecting the environment and preventing precious resources from reaching your local landfill.

So, once you’ve bought your new mobile phone, are you interested in some apps and widgets that will help you learn more about your health and the environment? Here are some suggestions: Envirofacts Widgets,  AirNow Mobile app, UV Index appIndoor airPLUS,  Just some suggestions of great information technology at your fingertips.

Do you have any favorites that you would like to share with us? We always like to hear from you.

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and currently serves the Multilingual Outreach and 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.

Sachin’s Campaign For The Environment

student

Four years ago, I started an effort to spread awareness about the dangers of electronic waste. It was a shame that people had to pay in order to recycle. Our’s was a grassroots effort, just middle school kids going door to door giving out brochures and bugging our neighbors. We offered to collect old computers to recycle for free and, if possible, fix minor issues and donate to nearby charities.

Over the past four years, the campaign grew. There were a number of memorable firsts:  the very first donation to a rural family in Ohio, the first thank you letter addressed to us, and the first newspaper article written about me. One of the most memorable moments was when I received a call from Junior Scholastic asking to interview me about my project. Junior Scholastic, a national children’s magazine, was interested in my project? I was overcome with pride and joy. All the hard work I had put in was finally paying off in the best ways. A few short weeks later, I got to see my face on the pages of the magazine, in between full page spreads of President Obama and Prince Charles.

But by far, the biggest reward, and the one I am most proud of, is the knowledge that I have made a difference in my own community. The newspaper articles helped get my name and purpose out to a large number of people, and my message resonated with many of them. I’ve received so many calls from people in my own neighborhood that wanted to donate their old electronics and many that took the effort to drive all the way to my house to drop them off. Computers that would have taken up space at a landfill can now be put to good use in homes and organizations.

It really is possible. With the right motivation and support it is possible to make a change. This is the most important lesson that this experience has taught me, and I will strive to take it along with me to other endeavors too.

Sachin Rudraraju from Powell, Ohio was a 2011 President’s Environmental Youth Award winner.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.