When most people think of recycling they imagine sorting through their trash to set aside plastic bottles, glass containers, and paper products donned with the classic triangular shaped recycle logo. While these materials have long been the most common to be recycled, there is growing awareness of the need to consider electronics recycling as a crucial part of green living. In fact, more and more states have banned disposal of electronics in landfills and are promoting electronics recycling programs.
Many household electronics can be recycled including; cell phones, TV’s, computer monitors, computer hard drives, keyboards, telecommunications waste, servers, circuit boards, power supplies, cd players, digital cameras, and a variety of other items. This long list of e-waste products presents a new opportunity to drastically reduce the amount of waste modern society produces through the course of everyday living. While e-waste recycling presents a great opportunity, it also presents a huge potential hazard if we ignore it. For example, CRT display televisions (classic TV’s) contain on average four to eight pounds of lead. When dumped in landfills the lead from these units can be absorbed into the ground causing soil and ground water to become toxic. This process causes irreparable damage to the environment as well as our own critical life resources.
On July 1st 2011 North Carolina became the 18th state in the union to place some kind of ban on electronics disposal in landfills. North Carolina residents must now recycle their old TV’s and Computers. This ban covers all computer components including; monitors, CPU’s, laptops, printers, fax machines, scanners, mice, and keyboards. The ban also covers all TV’s including; flat panel TV’s, tube TV’s, and projection TV’s.
While the ban is aimed at preventing citizens from disposing of their e-waste in the garbage, the state is not looking to target individuals for non-compliance. The new law will be enforced at the landfills, and those businesses will be responsible for rejecting waste containing the prohibited items. The enforcement of this new law presents additional challenges for officials as the motivation for landfills to comply can only be judged on a case-by-case basis. Outside of landfill management taking the initiative to do the right thing; there is little keeping them from conducting business as usual.
Besides the benefits this new law presents to the residents of North Carolina and the rest of the United States, this law represents a growing trend of public awareness and action being taken by leaders in this country to bring the American people into a new age of environmentally responsible living. And while we are taking huge leaps towards reversing the damage we have done over the past 50 years, other countries like China and India are undergoing technological revolutions and will soon be presented with the same issues we are seeking solutions for in this country now.
It’s our responsibility as technology leaders to show other nations there is a productive way to live responsibly, and that this way of living can go hand in hand with economic health and prosperity. As our recycling industry grows and contributes to the economic growth of this country, people’s eyes are opening to new possibilities. People are steadily being given the chance to live responsibly while enjoying the many benefits of a technologically advanced lifestyle.