Shoppers can ‘green’ their electronic purchases
Are you getting or giving an electronic gift during this holiday season? The Kentucky Division of Waste Management is asking that people buy green and, if the electronic gift is a replacement item, dispose of the resulting electronic scrap or e-scrap responsibly. E-scrap includes end-of-life telephones and cell phones, TVs, computers and associated equipment, audio/stereo gear, VCRs, DVDs and video game consoles.
Do your homework and buy green
The first step in the buy green process is deciding whether to purchase at all. Can an old item be repaired instead? Is this electronic device really necessary? Is leasing an option?
Once you have decided to buy, do your homework. A good source of information is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Now you are ready to green your holiday shopping:
- Buy electronics made with recycled materials and fewer toxic constituents.
- Purchase durable goods with high reliability ratings and low repair costs.
- Buy products designed for easy upgrades.
- Participate in dealer/manufacturer Take Back programs.
- Look for labels, such as Energy Star, that indicate the product is environmentally preferable. An Energy Star-qualified computer uses 70 percent less electricity than computers without enabled power management features.
Keep e-scrap out of the landfill
Electronic appliances contain toxics that may be harmful unless properly handled. An estimated 70 percent of heavy metals in landfill leachate (seepage) is from e-scrap. There also is the problem of sheer volume. E-scrap is about 2 percent of the solid waste stream - 100,000 tons of e-scrap per year in Kentucky alone - and is the fastest growing waste category.
Individuals can legally dispose of electronic equipment in their garbage, provided local landfills accept it. People should contact the solid waste coordinator in their county to be sure. Businesses and institutions must handle their electronic devices and components in a manner consistent with state and federal laws.
However, there are better ways of disposing of e-scrap:
- Recycle your e-scrap or take it to an e-scrap collection. Two sources of information:
- Resell or donate usable equipment.
A tip from Techsoup.org (The Technology Place for Nonprofits) on donations: it works out best for everyone if you donate a computer to a nonprofit or school-based refurbisher rather than directly to a school or charity. And if your computer is more than five years old, send it to a commercial recycler.
For more information on e-scrap and other waste management issues, e-mail the Division of Waste Management at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (502) 564-6716.