Electronics Recycling

Did you know that used electronics, such as computers, cell phones, and televisions should not be placed in the trash? These items contain potentially dangerous chemicals and heavy metals. As of July 1, 2011, the disposal of e-waste in North Carolina landfills is prohibited.

A Few Statistics on Electronics

  • Television and computer monitors contain cathode ray tubes (CRTs), which have high concentrations of lead; typically 4-8 pounds each.
  • Circuit boards contain heavy metals such as cadmium, mercury and chromium.
  • An estimated 70% of the overall toxic materials in landfills is comprised of electronic waste, also known as e-waste.
Cell Phones
Since the average life span of cell phones is only 18 months, an estimated half billion obsolete and unused cell phones are lying around. This translates into roughly 312,900 pounds of lead that could be released into landfills. The batteries though, are the most hazardous component of cell phones. Originally, cell phones had Ni-Cd batteries (made with nickel and cadmium). Cadmium is considered a human carcinogen, causing lung and liver damage. Most batteries today are made from lithium, which contains lead, and is also a potential explosive.

Many domestic violence prevention organizations accept cell phone donations. Working cell phones can be used to dial 911, even without an active telephone account.

What To Do
Instead of placing used electronics in the trash, they should be donated for reuse or be recycled. Visit Earth 911 for a list of local companies that accept electronic donations or provide recycling options. Some retailers provide free or low cost electronics recycling. If you are making a new purchase, ask if they have a plan for your old equipment.

The City of Durham has a Waste Disposal and Recycling Center (Transfer Station) at 2115 East Club Boulevard that accepts e-waste at no charge from residential users. Our e-waste vendor subscribes to the ISO standards management system and is R2 qualified. Large volume generators should use the North Carolina recycling market directory to identify proper disposal options.

Another resource for electronics information is the North Carolina Division of Environmental Assistance and Outreach.