The amount of recycled electronics is
increasing. In 2013, the amount of consumer
electronics that was recycled was 40.4%
( 1.27 million tons), up from
30.6% in 2012.
This corresponds to 8
pounds per person per
year recovered in 2013!
Paying a fine?
After searching the Internet, Aidan
found out that in some cities and
counties, a person can receive a fine of
$100 or more for putting electronics
out with the trash.
Twenty-five states have enacted
legislation to handle electronic waste.
California passed legislation in 2003
that requires customers to pay a fee
to dispose of electronics. The fee is
used to pay manufacturers to recycle
these products. In 2011, payments were as high as $77
million and accounted for
close to 200 million pounds
In 2010, Pennsylvania instituted bans that
prevent landfill facilities from accepting elec-
tronic waste. Manufacturers of electronics
are required to provide collection programs
for electronics, and retailers, such as Best
Buy and Staples, are also encouraged to
participate, gaining the goodwill of
residents in the state through their
environmentally friendly actions.
Dell created a program in 2006
that helps people donate old computers or recycle them. If you are
buying a Dell product, you can print
a prepaid shipping label addressed
to the company’s recycling center
and then schedule a pickup from
FedEx for your old computer. The
system can also be used for other
older-model computer brands when
you buy a new one from Dell.
Apple accepts products that
might be reused in exchange for
a gift card for an Apple product. If
the item cannot be reused, it will be
recycled, free of charge.
Some of these electronics can
be reused as they are, or parts can
be reused. Items, such as cell phones,
can be refurbished. For example, a
new screen or case might be installed
on a phone and then sold to another
customer, either in the United States
If recycling is needed, items are
shipped to a certified recycling com-
pany. Companies can earn certification
through two nonprofit organizations
that are currently run in the
United States: R2 Solutions and
e-Stewards. Through onsite
inspections and audits, these
nonprofits certify that com-
panies are following best-
management practices for the
Based on Aidan’s research, he and his
father decided that, from now on, their
family would recycle electronics. Keeping
electronics, or the valuable metals they contain, out of landfills and allowing them to be
reused would be worth it!
Turim-Nygren, M. How to Recycle Your Old
Computer. Digital Trends, Nov 24, 2012:
Electronics Recycling Coordination Clearinghouse.
Map of States with Legislation: http://www.
[accessed July 2016].
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Reduce,
Reuse, Recycle, March 10, 2016: http://
ecycling/ donate.htm [accessed July 2016].
Roberta Baxter is a science writer who lives
in Colorado Springs, Colo. Her most recent
ChemMatters article, “Diabetes: Tiny Particles to
the Rescue,” appeared in the October 2012 issue.
Dell and other electronics companies collect and recycle
their used products free of charge.
Source: https:// www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-09/