With the proliferation of household as well as personal consumer electronics, there’s a serious need for electronics recycling.
At one time, the average American household had one television, a couple of radios and maybe a walkman. And these items were used for years, if not decades.
But those days are long gone. In 2007, an estimated 3 million tons of consumer electronics, including televisions, DVD players and stereos, were discarded, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Of that amount, only 410,000 tons were recycled.
Recycling in general has increased in recent years. In 2008, 33 percent of the trash generated in the U.S., or 83 million tons, was recycled, according to the EPA. By comparison, only 6.4 percent, or 5.6 million tons, was recycled in 1960.
Some cities have established permanent collection sites for items that need to be recycled. Other cities hold special collection days one or more times a year. Some cities have even outlawed the disposal in municipal dumps of batteries and other toxic materials associated with consumer electronics, though federal law permits it.
Private companies such as retailers have also become key parts of the recycling universe.