Happy New Year! Did your holiday wish-list include a new computer or tablet? Did you make the most of the post-holiday sales and purchase a new television? If you said yes to any of these questions, you may be wondering how to properly dispose of your old electronics. The answer is easy- electronic waste recycling.

In 2018, New Jersey’s updated E-waste law kicks into effect with some changes from the original Electronic Waste Law enacted in 2011. Under the new law, additional electronic devices must be recycled rather than disposed of. These devices, referred to as “covered electronic devices” are defined as desktop or personal computers, computer monitors, portable computers (i.e. Tablets/I-Pads), desktop printers, desktop fax machines, or televisions sold to a consumer. The new law also changes the definition of “consumer” to include State entities, school districts and local governments.

The other change in that the new e-waste law places the responsibility on electronic manufacturers to bear the cost and obligation of recycling e-waste. This change is in response to the decline in the e-waste market which caused many manufacturers to reduce the amount that they picked up from counties and towns and also reduced the amount that they paid to recycling vendors. The new law gives the New Jersey Department of Protection new powers to take action against a manufacturer that does not meet with e-waste recycling obligation.

Why recycle electronic waste?
Well, for one, it’s the law! Disposing of electronic waste in landfills and other areas can cause environmental hazards. For examples, the illegal dumping of cathode tubes (found in televisions, computer monitors, video cameras and other devices) can cause lead, barium and other heavy metals leaking into groundwater as well as the release of toxic phosphor. Electronics are composed of valuable materials including metals, plastics and glass, requiring energy to mine and manufacture. By recycling these materials, it avoids the release of greenhouse gas emissions caused by the manufacturing of these materials while also conserving natural resources. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) estimates that recycling one million laptops conserves the energy equivalent to the electricity used by more than 3,500 homes in the United States annually!

How safe is recycling e-waste?
Personal computers contain a treasure-trove of personal information including passwords, photos, banking information and documents. Most people are concerned that when computers are disposed of, this information may end up in the wrong hands. Fear not. Here in Hudson County, amongst other areas, hard drives are removed and shredded prior to the remainder of the device heading to be dismantled and recycled. This practice allows the resident to rest easy that their personal information is secure.

More Electronics, More Electronic Waste
As technology continually advances and new products are being released globally, the amount of electronic waste increases rapidly, with 50 million tons of electronic waste produced each year worldwide. In the United States, the EPA estimates that 30 million computers are discarded annually. The e-waste management market is a $2.4 billion industry with projections expected to reach $9.5 billion by 2022.

How does the E-Waste Recycling Process Work?
The recycling process varies depending on the type of electronic material being recycled. For example, computers and printers are placed through a heavy-duty shredder which breaks them down into smaller chunks. These chunks are then sent through a laser-powered optical sorting system which identifies the properties of each chunk and then places them into bins for individual recyclable materials such as plastics, metals and computer chips. These bins are then sold for re-purposing. For example, the plastics used in computers are composed of flame-retardant materials which are re-used towards the production of new technology materials.

For older electronics, such as CRT monitors (found in older televisions and computer monitors), these must be dismantled by hand. CRT monitors have a layer or lead located behind the glass which was used as protection from the beams of electrons which produced images on a screen. In fact, a CRT monitor could contain up to 8 pounds of lead. The lead is extracted and smelted to keep these materials from contaminating soil and groundwater.

E-Waste Recycling in Hudson County
The HCIA offers residents with several different options to safely dispose of electronic devices at no cost. During the HCIA’s Household Hazardous Waste Collection Days, Hudson County residents can bring their old computers, monitors, mice, keyboards, and cell phones for recycling. Check the HCIA’s Calendar of Events and Social Media for HHW Collection Days throughout the County beginning in the Spring.

In addition, the HCIA has set up convention Electronics Drop Boxes in locations throughout the County which allow residents to easily drop off their old devices. Approved recyclables for these containers include: cables, cameras, computers and peripherals, DVD players, keyboards, laptops, mice, monitors, printers and fax machines, radios and stereo components, scanners, televisions, VCRs and BluRay Players. Visit HCIA.org for the full list of Hudson County E-Waste Collection Sites throughout Hudson County, or download the Recycle Coach App for additional information at the touch of a button.

Whether you received a new laptop for Christmas or are in the market for a new television just in time for Super Bowl, remember that your old electronic devices must be recycled properly. The HCIA offers Hudson County residents numerous opportunities to properly dispose of your hold devices. We are here to help!

   

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