Electronic waste is currently the fastest growing waste stream. Over 1.2 million electronic devices are thrown away in Indiana each year. Electronics such as televisions, computer components, and cell phones contain five toxic materials: lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium and brominated flame retardants. When in typical use, these dangerous chemicals do not pose any risk. But, when electronic devices are disposed of, the toxic materials can create serious health and environmental risks. Specifically, exposure to these dangerous materials can negatively impact the immune system, the reproductive system, heart function, fetal and child development, kidney function, the central nervous system and the respiratory system.
When electronics and computers are properly reused and recycled the risks to human health and the environment are avoided. Additionally, the valuable metals and plastic used to manufacture the devices are saved as well as much of the energy used to initially mine and produce those components.
National, state and local electronics recycling programs currently exist and more are being developed. Contact your local solid waste district for more information about collection programs in your area. In addition, a number of electronics manufacturers and retailers offer reuse and recycling programs. Some of those companies are Dell, HP, Apple, Lenovo, IBM, Sony and Best Buy.
More information about electronics recycling is available at the E-Scrap Indiana website or by visiting the Indiana Department of Environmental Management’s website.