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Proper disposal of old TVs, computers, and other electronics after the holidays is easier than ever
December 19, 2022
The holiday season means not only gift giving. It also results in people disposing of obsolete televisions, computers, or smart phones that contain hazardous substances as the items get replaced by the next best gadget.
Big screen television curbside.
Electronics are made up of materials that can be toxic if released into the environment, like leaded glass, mercury switches, mercury bulbs, brominated flame-retardant plastics, and electronic circuitry made of cadmium, chromium, and lead.
That’s why proper disposal of electronic waste – or e-waste – is so important, says Steve Noble, electronics recycling specialist at the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE).
"In 2019, in the United States, 46 pounds per person of waste electronics were generated" Noble said. "A little less than 15 percent of that actually gets recycled. A much larger amount simply resides in drawers, basements and garages waiting to be recycled, primarily because people don't know where to recycle it or there are no opportunities”
To keep up with resident’s desire to participate in electronics recycling, EGLE has focused its annual electronics grant program on rural areas of the state. Through the grant program, EGLE has helped communities across Michigan establish local e-waste drop off sites or hold collection events. Eight permanent collection sites, spread across the Upper Peninsula, will be up and running by the spring of 2023.
These collection sites accept unwanted electronics such as computers, printers, cell phones, holiday lights, cables, and more. By working with registered electronics recyclers, collectors can assure that these products have a reuse opportunity or at a minimum are properly recycled to protect the environment.
To find a location to properly recycle unwanted electronic waste and holiday-related items such as Christmas lights, check the Michigan Recycling Directory. EGLE's electronic recycling webpage also lists free takeback programs offered by manufacturers.