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Perhaps you have heard that E-waste is the fastest growing portion of our solid waste stream but many of you are left wondering:


Electronic waste (E-Waste): discarded computers and other consumer electronics including items like laptops, personal computers, televisions and cell phones.

Can you imagine how high the mountain of old computers would be if every person that has unwanted electronics at home decided to throw them away?  We'd never reach the summit! 


Massive piles of electronics present other problems for all life on earth because there are toxics in all computers and the piles keep growing.

Toxics inside your electronics:
Lead, Mercury, Cadmium, Nickel, Zinc, Brominated Flame Retardants


Improperly handling discarded electronics, such as dismantling (taking apart) without proper controls, or simply tossing the materials in the trash can expose hazardous chemical compounds known to negatively effect human and environmental health.  When released into the environment, the toxic components pose a threat today and tomorrow as well as for the future generations that follow. 

The fact is that only a very small amount of discarded computers are being recycled. The truth is that this needs to change!





Be Aware!  Know and understand the issues.   In so doing, you can make informed decisions and take positive action today; the CHOICE is yours!!

Prior to purchasing your new computer, be mindful of the following:

EPEAT is a system to help purchasers in the public and private sectors evaluate, compare and select desktop computers, notebooks and monitors based on their environmental attributes. EPEAT also provides a clear and consistent set of performance criteria for the design of products, and provides an opportunity for manufacturers to secure market recognition for efforts to reduce the environmental impact of its products.

  • Know you can upgrade your older system and this will help it run faster

  • Consider if the manufacturer offers a take-back or recycling program that is either nearby or convenient and easy for you to participate

  • Does the manufacturer use recycled/recyclable materials?


*Useful definitions:

Orphan Waste: electronic waste manufactured by or bearing the brand name of a company which is no longer in business as of the effective date of the requirements of this act.

Recycling: reprocessing of the waste materials for the original purpose or for other purposes, but excluding energy recovery or energy generation by means of combusting electronic waste with or without other waste.
Re-use,means any operation by which electronic waste or components thereof are used for the same purpose for which they were conceived, including the continued use of the equipment or components thereof which are returned to collection points, recyclers, or producers.

Product Stewardship:  a system that addresses the environmental and economic impacts of a product through its life cycle.

Life Cycle Analysis: A life cycle inventory is a process of quantifying energy and raw material requirements, atmospheric emissions, waterborne emissions, solid wastes, and other releases for the entire life cycle of a product, process, or activity (EPA 1993).  The Life Cycle Impact Assessment (LCIA) phase of an LCA is the evaluation of potential human health and environmental impacts of the environmental resources and releases identified during the life cycle inventory (LCI). Impact assessment should address ecological and human health effects; it can also address resource depletion. A life cycle impact assessment attempts to establish a linkage between the product or process and its potential environmental impacts.

If you have any questions feel free to contact Dana Lawson.

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Last Updated: December 21, 2010