With another holiday season wrapping up there are now thousands of newly unwrapped gizmos being used by people all across the country. For many, this means taking the old TV or computer down to the edge of the driveway, leaving it for the garbage man to collect. But for New Jerseyans, it means hauling all of those old electronics to the nearest collection center. The state’s Department of Environmental Protection recently issued a public statement to that affect, reminding all those who received an upgrade to one or more of their digital assets that they cannot simply toss out their old laptop.
Beginning in 2010, the state of New Jersey has mandated that all televisions, tablets, e-readers, printers, monitors, and computers must be delivered to designated recycling centers, rather than leaving them out for regular trash pickup. The ban on such electronic wastes, or e-waste, is justified by the myriad hazardous elements that go into fabricating motherboards and television screens. TV’s and monitors contain everything from mercury to lead, which can potentially leach into water tables if disposed of in landfills.
The state’s Department of Environmental Protection maintains a network of drop-off points for consumers to use for e-waste disposal. Many of these locations are organized by county or municipality, with a number of electronics retail stores also serving as drop-off points. Each location can accept all personal/portable electronics, as well as video game consoles, DVD players, VCRs, and cell phones, though these are not currently part of the state’s e-waste ban.
So far, the state has recycled over 100 million tons of electronics since the ban’s inception in 2010. Currently, e-waste makes up just 2% of the state’s waste stream, but is expected to increase significantly in the coming years. The rapid expansion of the consumer electronics industry, coupled with ever-evolving technologies, prompts many consumers to upgrade their electronics every 6-12 months, resulting in a lot of obsolete devices left in the rubbish pile.