By Ayrel Clark-Proffitt, Sustainability Resource Center
The laptop on which I am currently typing may seem innocuous, but that is only its exterior. Inside, it is full of circuits and wires that contain heavy metals and chemicals such as lead, cadmium, chromium, and plenty of other nasty stuff (HowStuffWorks).
Sure, my laptop is safe to use, but if it is discarded in a landfill, all those hazardous materials have the potential to leach into the ground and even water supply. Electronic waste, or more often called e-waste, accounts for three-quarters of heavy metals in U.S. landfills. Without coordinated e-waste recycling efforts and even regulations, that number is likely to increase. In 2009, the EPA reported that U.S. residents discarded 2.37 million short tons of e-waste, an increase of 120 percent over 10 years earlier. Only about 25% of that e-waste was collected for recycling.
For reference, 2.37 million short tons is the equivalent of 4.74 billion pounds.
Don’t worry, there is a solution: Bring your unused home electronics to the University of Utah on Friday, April 11 from 8 am to 12 pm for responsible e-waste recycling. Area residents can drop off their waste at 1795 E. South Campus Drive, Salt Lake City 84112, which is adjacent to the South Campus TRAX station. Metech Recycling, a local and e-Stewards Certified company, will collect the materials. It accepts laptops, computers, monitors, TVs, microwaves, mobile phones, printers, and more (See complete list of accepted materials). Metech also offers certified data destruction for devices that contain personal information.
The University of Utah E-Waste Collection is sponsored by the U of U Sustainability Resource Center, U of U IT, Salt Lake Valley Health Department, and Samsung.