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It is easier than ever to properly recycle unwanted electronics after the holidays
December 12, 2023
New electronics are part of the holiday season of giving, but it also means that many outdated devices such televisions, computers, or even Christmas lights get tossed out to make way for new models. Disposing of them thoughtfully can be your gift to the environment and future generations!
Electronic waste recycling collection event in Meridian Township in 2021.
Electronics are made up of materials that can be toxic if released into the environment. Leaded glass, mercury switches, mercury bulbs, brominated flame-retardant plastics, and electronic circuitry made of cadmium, chromium, and lead are among the hazardous elements that can be involved.
Christmas lights are made up of metals such as copper that are readily recycled and made into other products such as more lights or new copper pipes.
It’s more important than ever to properly dispose of electronic waste – or e-waste – says Steve Noble, electronics recycling specialist at the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE).
According to the World Economic Forum, less than 83% of the electronics generated on an annual basis is collected for recycling and thus is not available to the circular economy to be reused or recycled. When placed in a landfill, waste electronics contribute to heavy metal contamination. Electronics contribute significant amounts of toxic material to landfill leachate and are lost from recycling. That’s why it’s essential to dispose of electronics responsibly.
To keep up with residents’ desire to participate in electronics recycling, EGLE has focused its annual electronics grant program on rural areas of the state. Through the grant program, it has helped communities across Michigan establish local e-waste drop off sites or hold collection events. Multiple permanent electronics collection sites, spread across the rural portions of Michigan, are currently operating. More will be up and running by the spring of 2025.
These collection sites accept unwanted electronics such as computers, printers, cell phones, holiday lights, cables, and more. By working with responsible 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 electric items such as that old television or holiday lights, check the Michigan Recycling Directory. The manufacturers of certain electronics are required by law to have free take back program for computers, televisions, and printers. Most meet their requirements by offering free mail-back program. These mail-back programs are easy to use and can be accessed by going to the registered manufacturer's website and searching for recycling information.