E-waste is a popular, informal name for electronic products nearing the end of their “useful life.” Computers, televisions, VCRs, stereos, copiers, and fax machines are common electronic products. Many of these products can be reused, refurbished, or recycled. Unfortunately, electronic discards make up one of the fastest growing segments of our nation’s waste stream.
What is California doing about this situation?
On September 24, 2003, landmark legislation established a funding system for the collection and recycling of certain electronic wastes. Key elements of the Electronic Waste Recycling Act of 2003 that affect product consumers include:
The collection of an electronic waste recycling fee at the retail point of sale of covered products. Requirements on manufacturers to provide consumer information regarding recycling opportunities.
The intent of this program is to enhance the availability of convenient recycling options for consumers so that products containing toxic compounds are not disposed of inappropriately.
What is my role as a consumer?
Consumers of electronic products have a responsibility to buy smart, use right, and manage well. Computer monitors, televisions and other electronic equipment should NOT be disposed of with regular garbage. Working TVs, monitors, computers and other consumer electronics can be sold or donated thereby prolonging their useful life. Nonfunctioning TVs, computer monitors and other obsolete electronic products should be repaired or recycled by an organization equipped to handle them.
What’s up with this fee on my receipt?
Beginning January 1, 2005, an Electronic Waste Recycling Fee will be assessed on certain “covered electronic devices” sold in California. “Covered” means covered by the law, and includes most video display products such as computer monitors and televisions. The fee will be collected at the time of retail sale, including Internet and catalog sales, to California consumers.
How much is the fee?
The fee varies depending on the diagonal measurement of the device’s screen.
- $6 when the screen is larger than 4 inches, but smaller than 15 inches
- $8 when the screen is at least 15 inches, but smaller than 35 inches
- $10 when the screen is 35 inches or larger
Collected fees will be deposited in an Electronic Waste Recovery and Recycling Account managed by the State of California and will be used to provide payments to authorized collectors and recyclers, fostering the development of recycling opportunities and offsetting the cost of properly managing these types of products at the end of their useful lives. Due to hazardous components, it is unlawful to dispose of most covered electronic devices with regular municipal waste.
It is important to note that the Electronic Waste Recycling Fee is not a deposit, and that the covered products do not contain “redemption value”, as do many beverage containers in California. Consumers are not entitled to reimbursement of the fee when covered products are recycled. Rather, the intent of the fee is to reduce, or eliminate, the costs associated with properly recycling this material when it becomes waste.
Where Can I Find a Recycler?
Looking for facilities that collect specific types of electronic equipment for reuse or recycling? CalRecycle maintains a searchable directory for different electronic materialshttp://www.erecycle.org/search.asp
San Bernardino County’s Household Hazardous Waste Program accepts resident’s cell phones at its collection facilities in Apple Valley, Barstow, Big Bear Lake, Joshua Tree, Trona, and Victorville http://www.sbcfire.org/hazmat/hhwcollection.asp#ABOP%20Facilities
For other resources on reusing and recycling electronic products, visit http://calrecycle.ca.gov/electronics/ReuseRecycle/. If you are specifically looking to recycle a television or computer monitor, you might want to search the CalRecycle list of SB 20 collectors.
We encourage you to contact collectors and recyclers to find out about their services and any potential charges.
Important Reminder: Many electronic products (computers, cell phones, PDAs, etc) are used to store personal information. Before donating or recycling your equipment, remember to remove all sensitive and personal information from its memory. Note that simply using your keyboard or mouse to delete files does not completely remove the information from your computer’s hard drive. Your local software store can provide you with the necessary drive cleaning software appropriate for your system.
List it free
Find a new home for your unwanted electronics utilizing the statewide listings provided by http://www.calrecycle.ca.gov/calmax/
Why should waste electronics be recycled?
Most electronic devices contain a variety of materials, including metals, that can be recovered for recycling.
Recycling your waste electronics saves resources and protects the Earth because new metals don’t have to be mined. In addition, some electronic products contain high enough levels of certain materials, such as lead, that render them hazardous waste when disposed. For instance, California law designates waste televisions and monitors as hazardous. Hazardous wastes cannot be disposed with municipal trash.