Old microwaves, cellphones, VCRs, copy machines and nearly everything that is part of or attached to a computer often end up retired to the nearest curb or local donation site.
Often referred to as “eCycling,” recycling electronic waste isn't a weekly opportunity for many communities but there are eco-friendly ways of disposing used electronics.
Steve Skurnac, president of Sims Recycling Solutions, a global electronics recycling company, said Sims workers were recently in Nichols Hills to pick up “eWaste” during Earth Day celebration events.
Workers collected more than 3,000 pounds of used electronics.
“These are things you don't want to throw in the landfill,” he said. “Old electronics have toxic and hazardous components ... one computer might not be a big deal, but hundreds of thousands are.”
A May 5 eCycling opportunity at State Fair Park brought in nearly 154,000 pounds of waste from more than 1,000 participants, reducing waste, air and water emissions and enough energy savings to power 1,183 U.S. households for a year.
That event was sponsored by the city and Waste Management Recycle America, LG Electronics and Keep Oklahoma Beautiful.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates some 3.5 million tons of eWaste are produced each year.
“Historically this stuff went to landfills or was exported to developing countries,” Skurnac said.
Electronic equipment often contains heavy metals such as mercury and lead that leach into the environment if they're disposed of in a landfill.
“We take it for granted,” Skurnac said. “You don't know there are a bunch of hazardous materials in these things.”
The glass, plastic and metal from old products can be reused in the manufacture of new ones, said Pamela Ducas, a spokeswoman for Waste
“Recycling electronics minimizes the amount of hazardous waste in the landfills and the extraction of new raw materials from the earth,” she said.
Some donation centers and stores offer eCycling options, and workers at local trash companies or recycling sites are often aware of scheduled events. Many municipalities around the metro have annual eCycling events.
Skurnac advises asking questions at drop-off places or events, such who will do the recycling and what kind of processes are used. For those dropping off computers, making sure the hard drive is wiped — or will be by the recycler — ensures sensitive information stays secure.
For more information
The website www.earth911.com provides a directory of recycling sites and events. Also, the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality has information about eCycling in the state at www.deq.