E-Cycling Economics

Kelly Ann Butterbaugh

The green movement is in full swing, and while it might be great for our planet, it might not be so great for our wallets. A growing concern involves e-cycling, recycling electronic products which seep chemical poisons into the ground beneath the dumps. There is a way to responsibly recycle e-products without breaking the bank. Think of e-cycling as "economic recycling" and save the planet.

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What to Avoid

  • Avoid fees for dropping off recycled items. While there is the accepted fee for items containing Freon and other harmful chemicals, there are places that will take your items for free. Most of them are places that look to reuse the items such as charities, schools, or resellers. Some larger stores charge relatively high fees for dropping off computers, monitors, and TVs which defeats the green movement. If it costs money to recycle it, many will opt for the free curbside trash instead.
  • Stay away from companies that ask you to ship the items to them. There are recycling programs that accept items, but they ask that you mail the item to the company; an expensive choice. Instead, look for companies that accept donations near you or provide postage paid labels.
  • Be cautious of services that do the work for you. Sites such as http://www.greendisk.com offer the fantastic service of picking up unsorted electronic "trash" and safely clearing hard drives and memory devices before recycling the products appropriately. While this is a great option for a larger company, and by all means may be the best option for you, it is an expensive option for most households. Greendisk accepts a 19 lb. box of various electronic accessories shipped to them in your own box at your own expense, and then charges $6.95 to dispose of the contents once received. This total could be $17 or higher based on today's shipping rates. Likewise, a complete computer system costs $35 to recycle with single components like monitors coming in around $20 (postage and packaging included for both of these options, however.)

Try This Instead

  • Large chain stores such as Staples accept a variety of electronics for recycling. Check their website or call the store for drop-off information. Some stores such as Best Buy also accept electronics, but only smaller pieces such as cell phones and MP3 players.
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  • Visit http://www.earth911.org to find recyclers near you. Have an old computer ready to hit the curb? This website is easy to navigate. With a simple pull-down menu on the top of the main screen, you can find the product you have to recycle and enter your zip code. A list of nearby places that accept the item for recycling appear along with directions and other information for each site, including any fees.
  • Not only does this site offer fantastic deals on ink cartridges, but it also offers free cartridge recycling. Visit http://www.worldclassink.com and look for the recycling program link on the home page. Simply fill in the electronic form with your name and e-mail, and they will e-mail you a pre-paid label for your cartridges. Drop them in the mail, let the company reuse them, keep costs down, and save the environment. Now that's a great deal!
  • Environmental groups emphasize reusing items instead of recycling. Reusing items costs much less but involves some thought. Schools usually are happy to accept outdated computers. In fact, many organizations take advantage of fundraisers which collect used cell phones and ink cartridges for refurbishing. Call your local church, school, or community group to see if they have a need for your old equipment. An outdated TV can still function well in the local shelter, and one local family without any computer would appreciate your old one. Look for places with lounges to donate your microwaves and refrigerators; police stations, fire stations, and faculty rooms operate on donated appliances.

Reduce, reuse, recycle; and save both money and the planet.

Comments

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October 17, 20080 found this helpful

Also, contact your county or township public works departments. My township doesn't offer pickup of recyclable electronics and some "hazardous" items (fluorescent bulbs, batteries, e.g., but they DO accept these items, at no cost to me, at the public works office. I just save up until I have enough to justify a sbort side trip-- the public works office is on my way to work anyway. (Of course, for things like lightbulbs and batteries, make sure you save them in a safe place far, far out of reach of small children and pets!)

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