Conservation Minnesota

Out with the Old: Electronic Recycling

As Santa knows all too well, nearly everyone wants new electronics during the holiday season. Out with the old and in with the new, but what do you actually do with the old? What do you do with your old TV when you get a new one? Knowing what to do with your old equipment can be tricky, but thankfully in Minnesota electronics recycling is widely available.

In 2007, Conservation Minnesota helped pass Minnesota’s E-Waste law that requires manufacturers to take responsibility for the collection and recycling of electronic devices. Largely due to this law, Minnesota is now a national leader in electronics recycling. Devices that can be recycled include televisions, computer monitors, cell phones, laptops, computers, DVD and VCR players, fax machines, and PDAs. And, many people don’t realize that cords and cables contain valuable metals and also can also be recycled.

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In addition, last year, we helped pass needed updates to this nation-leading E-Waste law to make sure the manufacturers’ obligation is keeping up with changes in technology. This is important to guarantee that local governments are not stuck with the costs of collection, which they must then pass on to citizens.

In the coming legislative session, more changes to the law may be necessary to ensure our E-Waste program is working effectively. We are continuing to work with state agencies and manufacturers to design changes that make sure all electronics are re-used or recycled and that local governments are not unduly burdened by the costs of collection.

According to the EPA, Americans own nearly 3 billion electronic products. These devices are safe to use every day in your house, but if thrown away, can release heavy metals and other dangerous chemicals into the environment. And, throwing away metal components like the copper, gold, silver, and palladium leads to needless extraction and mining for new metals.

So as you’re thinking about consumer electronic gifts such as TVs, tablets, computers, and DVD players keep in mind how you will dispose of your existing items. If your old electronics are still working well, I suggest donating them. However, if you get a new TV to replace your old one that doesn’t work, be sure to find an E-Waste program. Old TVs and computer monitors contain an average of 6 pounds of lead and other toxic metals! Disposing old electronics properly is a must.

So when my family (hopefully) gives me the Blu-Ray player I’ve been asking for to replace my faulty DVD player, I’ll be taking that old DVD player to a drop off center.. Finding an E-Waste program is the easy and responsible way to dispose of my old equipment.

To find a drop-off location for electronic recycling, check out Minnesota Pollution Control Agency website here.

About Paul Austin

Paul Austin
Paul Austin has 23 years of public service as an elected leader, advocate and political strategist, Paul Austin brings a rare combination of skills and experience to his position as Executive Director. At age 25, Paul was elected Mayor of Clinton, Connecticut – the youngest in state history. Paul has served as Executive Director of Conservation Minnesota since 2004.
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