recycling centers

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.

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New Recycling Law in Pennsylvania

By Dan Gallo, EPA Region 3

If you live in Pennsylvania, important changes have taken place on how you dispose of electronics equipment. As of January 24, 2013 Pennsylvania residents can no longer put electronics like televisions, stereos and computers out with their regular trash.

So, what are you supposed to do? Well, there are outlets for finding new homes for your electronics that focus on donating them or taking them to retailers who will help with recycling.

Under Pennsylvania’s Covered Device Recycling Act, manufacturers and retailers of electronics sold in Pennsylvania must conduct recycling programs. For example, if you take your electronics to Best Buy they will send them to a certified electronics recycler, and depending on the condition, the item will be refurbished or repaired, reused, or recycled for parts and materials.

Other retailers also offer take-back services, and most Goodwill locations will accept your old electronics. For other resources, check out EPA’s Electronics Donation and Recycling page or the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s Electronics Collection Programs page.

Besides saving materials, recycling of electronics also saves energy because it takes huge amounts of energy to extract the resources needed to produce the plastics, precious metals and rare earth elements that are used in electronics. Recycling one million laptops saves enough energy to power 3,657 homes for an entire year! Collecting one metric ton of circuit boards from old computers can recover 40 to 800 times the amount of gold and 30 to 40 times the amount of copper mined from one metric ton of ore.

Donating your electronics can also help the needy. So, even if you don’t live in Pennsylvania, consider donating your electronics for reuse and recycling to help others and help to save the planet too.

About the author: Dan Gallo has been working for EPA since 1989 and has served as the Electronics Recycling Coordinator for the Mid-Atlantic Region since 2007. Previously, Dan worked for 11 years as the Enforcement Coordinator for the Lead-Based Paint Program. Dan has a Masters Degree in Public Administration and also a Juris Doctorate. Interested in green buildings, he has earned certification as a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Accredited Professional. Dan also helped to found a local homeless family transition program that he supports.

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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New Year’s Resolution

By Wendy Dew

Do you recycle? I used to. I live in a very rural area where we have no true recycling centers. My husband and I used to pile the recycling up in the garage and then once a month drive one hour to a recycling collection spot. The bins were almost always full when we got there. We would have a truck full of recycling with nowhere to go! So we gave up and stopped recycling about a year ago. Every time I throw something in the trash I know can be recycled, I feel horrible.

So, my New Year’s Resolution this year is to figure out what new opportunities there might be for me to start recycling again – likely on a smaller scale!

Recycling turns materials that would otherwise become waste into valuable resources. Collecting used bottles, cans, and newspapers and taking them to the curb or to a collection facility is just the first in a series of steps that generates a host of financial, environmental, and social returns. Some of these benefits accrue locally as well as globally.

Benefits of Recycling

  • Recycling protects and expands U.S. manufacturing jobs and increases U.S. competitiveness.
  • Recycling reduces the need for landfilling and incineration.
  • Recycling prevents pollution caused by the manufacturing of products from virgin materials.
  • Recycling saves energy.
  • Recycling decreases emissions of greenhouse gases that contribute to global climate change.
  • Recycling conserves natural resources such as timber, water, and minerals.
  • Recycling helps sustain the environment for future generations.

For many communities recycling is as easy as putting out the trash. For others, like my community, it is a challenge. I believe recycling will become easier for all communities in the not too distant future. But until then, I will continue to find ways to recycle what I can. I encourage folks of all ages to do the same!

About the author: Wendy Dew has been with EPA for 14 years and is the Environmental Education and Outreach Coordinator for Region 8 in Denver, Colorado.

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.