Where Does Your E-Waste Go?

Discarded, broken or obsolete electronics all go somewhere.  As BAN’s founder Jim Puckett says, “Remember that when you throw something away, it does not disappear.  There is no magical black hole called “away”.  [Away is a place].” “Away” is somewhere. “Somewhere” can be anywhere from a local landfill to a small village in China.

The Trash Can

You want your busted electronics gone.   That’s what a trash can is for right?  Wrong.  A trash can is not a magical “away.”   Think of it as the opening of the pipe leading to a local landfill or incinerator.  Either option means that lead, mercury, cadmium and other toxins from your electronics stand a good chance of polluting the environment, poisoning water, soil, wildlife and people. 

The Closet and Drawer & Friends and Family

Believe it or not, many thousands of tons of old electronics, games, stereos, computers, and cell phones are sitting at home sitting in closets, drawers and garages.  Many careful consumers know not to throw e-waste in the trash and refuse to take it to a recycler for fear it’ll be exported. 

Unfortunately, the re-use value of electronics diminishes rapidly.  If your electronics still work, ask someone you know if they want them. Folks who will gladly use your still-working electronics are a great “somewhere”.

Uncertified Electronics Recyclers

Taking your electronics to an e-waste recycler seems like a good bet. The fact is, you’re taking a huge gamble. It’s unclear if your e-waste will be recycled safely, ethically and responsibly or end up being taken apart by prisoners or by unethical recyclers who stockpile hazardous components only to abandon it later.  Worse, it will go the route of what industry experts believe happens at least 50% of the time if you take your equipment to electronics recyclers -- your old TV, computer or cell phone will end up in a village or slum in Ghana, Nigeria, India or China.