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‘E-waste’ – What is it? What do you do with it?

You’ve probably heard the term “e-waste” a hundred times. But what does it mean, exactly?

E-waste (or electronic waste) is consumer electronics that no longer work or are just outdated and unwanted. It includes computers, other office equipment, TVs, mobile phones and entertainment devices. But these devices are only “e-waste” if you throw them in the trash. Electronics are full of valuable materials like copper, aluminum, glass and even plastics that you can recycle.

Washington’s free, statewide E-Cycle program provides convenient collection sites for computers (including tablets), monitors, e-readers, portable DVD players and TVs. By state law, the E-Cycle program is paid for by the manufacturers of these devices.

E-Cycle Washington started five years ago and Washingtonians have since recycled over 212 million pounds of electronics (equal to the weight of 383 fully loaded 787 Dreamliner jets) and kept nearly 14 million pounds of lead alone out of the landfill.

The Department of Ecology estimates that 915,000 TVs, computers and monitors were recycled in 2013 through E-Cycle Washington.

There are 335 free E-Cycle drop-off sites spread throughout the state with at least one in every county.

You can find the one nearest you by visiting EcycleWashington.org or calling 800-RECYCLE. In Sequim the following businesses are E-Cycle drop-off sites:

• Goodwill Store – 680 W. Washington St., Suite C

• Ecycle NW – 272693 U.S. Highway 101

Some common electronics, such as cell phones and printers, are not currently in the E-Cycle program, but a few larger electronics retailers take these and other electronics for free through their own recycling programs. Check with local retailers like Best Buy and Staples to see if you can recycle your cell phones, printers and other items with them.

E-cycling not only recycles valuable materials within electronics, but it also assures that toxic components like lead, cadmium, arsenic and brominated flame retardants are managed responsibly and kept out of the environment – and the food chain. The Department of Ecology oversees the E-Cycle Washington program to ensure hazardous components are safely managed and to maximize recycling of all materials.

So don’t “e-waste” your electronics, E-Cycle them!

If you have any questions about E-Cycle Washington, contact Miles.Kuntz@ecy.wa.gov, 360-407-7157 or Christine.Haun@ecy.wa.gov, 360-407-6107 at the Department of Ecology.

 

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