E-cycling – it’s easy

imagesCAQRPF9LIt’s the holiday season and electronic gadgets are popular gift items. From upgrades to replacements, new purchases or trade-ins, electronic items like cell phones, tablets, laptops, and digital cameras results in a stream of obsolete or inoperable older models. E-cycling is the process of recycling electronic items.

Electronic products are made from valuable resources like metals and glass and require energy to mine or manufacture. Recycling or donating these products conserves natural resources, reduces air and water pollution as well as greenhouse gas emissions. When these items that contain hazardous materials are thrown in the trash, they mix with other chemicals in the trash and produce toxic fumes.  If discarded improperly, metals could leach into the ground and pollute groundwater sources.

The EPA identifies that by recycling cell phones and laptops, we can see the following benefits –

1 million cell phones = 35,000 lbs of copper, 772 lbs of silver, 75 lbs of gold and 33 lbs of palladium

1 million laptops = electricity of 3,500 homes in US for 1 year

If you are upgrading or donating your electronics, be sure to delete all of your personal information and remove any batteries. Batteries may need to be recycled separately.

There are many options to donate and recycle your used electronics. In Pinellas County, you may use the HEC3 or Household Electronics and Chemical Collection Center, a permanent facility available year round to residents. Here you can dispose of televisions, cell phones, computers and DVDs and many other items that contain digital displays or rechargeable batteries. Read the guide to HEC3 to identify which items are accepted.

Big box stores also accept or recycle (when you purchase or upgrade) electronic items like cell phones, computers or televisions. Check with your local retailer about whether they participate in a recycling program and be sure to ask where and how they will dispose of your electronic gadget. Companies like Earth911 and GreenerGadgets also offer recycling options and resources.

Read this interesting resource on the Secret Life of a Smart Phone. UF/IFAS Extension offers these resources on e-cycling including this video about identifying and preparing your items for e-cycling.

Don’t forget to do your part and e-cycle this holiday season.