There is a variety of ways to recycle or donate broken and outdated electronics to prevent them from reaching local landfills.
In these times of rapidly changing technology, a recently purchased laptop, cellphone, TV or hand-held device may become outdated as soon as an improved model is available. According to many studies, electronics waste is the fastest-growing category of trash on Earth. This kind of waste contains toxic heavy metals and other hazardous materials that can leach into groundwater supplies, requiring that old or broken electronics be carefully recycled to ensure their disposal does not harm the environment.
“Anything that can be reused should be
recycled instead of being put into a landfill,” said Debbie Sponsler, section manager for the Orange County’s Utilities Solid Waste Division. “Electronics don’t decompose at all and contain toxic materials; so if they can be donated or reused, that is better for the environment and can help others, as well.”
The Solid Waste Division sponsors four community collection events each year at different locations throughout the county. Items also can be dropped off at the Orange County Landfill in East Orlando and the L.B. McLeod Road Transfer Station. For hours and more information, call 407-836-6601 or visit www.ocflrecycles.net on the Web.
In July, a hazardous and electronics waste collection event was held in Hunter’s Creek for residents of unincorporated Orange County and the cities of Apopka, Ocoee, Orlando, Windermere and Winter Garden. Proof of residency is required at each public event.In addition to toxic chemicals and flammable liquids, hundreds of computer monitors, circuit boards, keyboards, printers, telephones, fax machines, DVD players, TVs and other items were collected.The next community electronics and hazardous waste recycling event for Orange County residents will be Oct. 15 from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Orange County Services Building, located at 1111 N. Rock Springs Road in Apopka.Donation is another way to keep landfills free of hazardous e-waste. Often, old electronics can be reprogrammed for use by others, but it is important to erase all personal data from computers and cellphones before donation.Orange County collects cellphones to benefit the 911 Cell Phone Bank, which provides cellphones to victim service agencies and raises funds for police departments to continue these programs. For more information, visit www.911cellphonebank.org on the Web.The Publix Super Market on Sand Lake Road in Dr. Phillips has a box at its customer service desk for cellphone donations. It is sponsored by the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, and phones are passed on to senior citizens and victims of abuse.Harbor House of Central Florida, women’s shelters and many churches and charities accept old cellphones, as do organizations that help veterans and current military personnel, such as Cell Phones for Soldiers. Some technical schools accept electronics for students to use for training.Many large electronics, office supply and home improvement stores accept items for recycling, and some offer store gift cards or rebates in return. Computer and cellphone manufacturers often have their own recycling programs, as well.Best Buy accepts all types of computer and media products at its stores, regardless of where the items were purchased or how old they are. Independent recycling companies evaluate the donations to determine if the products and their elements should be repaired, repurposed or recycled, all in an environmentally safe way.Joe Aho is the senior manager of eCycling for Waste Management Recycle America, the nation’s leading environmental services provider. The company handles curbside recycling for Orange County, although not its electronics.“Waste electronics contain lead, mercury and other materials, which can be hazardous to the environment if improperly managed,” Aho said. “By recycling e-waste in an environmentally responsible process, we are able to conserve landfill space and recover the metal, plastic and other materials that can be used in the manufacture of new products.”With numerous options available, it is easier than ever to dispose of cellphones and electronics without adding to the trash or landfill; it is even possible to give these items a vibrant second life.
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