Consider this detail: from 2006 to 2008 recycling efforts in Mecklenburg County resulted in about 400 tons of recovered electronic waste.
North Carolina law bans certain electronic items from landfills. In particular, a 2011 state law bans disposing of televisions and computers in landfills. Electronic waste recycling saves landfill space and provides a safe way to dispose of hazardous waste.
"From 2009 through 2011, tonnages saw a steady increase with over 520 tons recovered in 2011," Nick Crawford said. He is a senior environmental specialist with Mecklenburg County Waste Reduction and Recycling. "The 520 tons generated a little more than $20,000 in revenue for the 2011 fiscal year, in addition to preserving valuable landfill space."
Crawford offers more information in this Q&A.
Q. What problem(s) does it present if someone does not properly dispose of one of these items and instead it goes into the landfill?
A. Improperly disposed electronic waste takes up valuable landfill space and contains multiple toxic materials, especially the banned electronics of computers and televisions. Electronic waste can contain lead, nickel, mercury, and cadmium. The toxic components, if improperly managed, can have negative impacts on human and environmental health. Additionally, valuable resources such as gold and silver are common components in electronic waste. These valuable materials are buried away in a landfill when the electronic waste is not recycled and disposed of in the normal waste stream.
Q. How does the community benefit from the proper disposal of computers and televisions?
A. The community benefits in multiple economic and quality of life ways. Preserving valuable landfill space is a huge benefit. Harmful toxins are kept out the landfill and (are) much simpler to manage in the recycling process than in a landfill. Valuable resources, such as gold and silver, are kept out of the landfill and recovered. The community also benefits in the creation of new jobs and markets which is vital for the local and global economy. There is additional economic benefit in the savings from the recycling of the valuable metals versus the cost of additional mining for these items. Keeping electronic waste out of the landfill is the common sense approach to a sustainable economy and environment.
Q. What else should the public know?
A. Electronic waste (E-waste) is harmful and includes more than the landfill banned items of computers and televisions. In Mecklenburg County, E-waste is easy and free of charge to deliver to one of our four Full Service Recycling Centers. Creative Recycling Systems of North America is contracted by the County to transport, process, and recycle the E-waste that is dropped off at the centers. E-waste accepted at the Full Service Recycling Centers includes:
Find out more about waste reduction and recycling in Mecklenburg County at www.wipeoutwaste.com