Recently, someone emailed asking why E-waste recycling was important. Thought we would share:
1. What are the dangers of having E-waste deposited in landfills? E-waste is dangerous to deposit into Solid Waste landfills because of the heavy metals contained in them. All the circuitry uses trace amounts of these materials that may not be hazardous on an individual basis, but we are landfilling tons and tons of these materials together. Like other Hazardous materials going into these landfills, the cumulative effect will be dangerous. Solid Waste Landfills are built to handle banana peels, and other non-toxic materials; not this toxic-soup.
2. Is there currently an abundance of E-waste present in our landfills in Alabama? In the U.S.?  Because of the cost associated with separating these materials out of the waste stream, Alabamians are putting a lot of E-waste into our landfills. We barely have successful recycling efforts in many parts of the state, much less for these materials. Some landfills have diversion plans at the landfills, but not across all landfills. This is also a problem in other parts of the US, especially where environmental laws are weak.
3. Why is it important to our environment for people to find alternate ways of disposing E-waste? We will have to deal with these materials at some point. Either we deal with them now to divert a usable resource into a recovery market that exists and can be economically rewarding. Or, we dispose of them in the landfills and will have to deal with the breakdown of liners and barriers, one day, and increase filtration needs of water, and possible other contaminants to our natural resources.
4. What avenues do local vendors provide people for recycling their E-waste? Several of the larger retail stores are now offering exchange programs. Some communities offer collection days throughout the year. The Downtown Birmingham Recycling Center serves as a collection point for Technical Knock Out, accepting all E-waste except for Computer monitors and TV's. TKO also hosts E-waste collection drives throughout the area at different times.
5. What would you say to the public to encourage them to recycle their E-waste? It is easier to process these materials now than it will be for our children. TKO and other programs do a great job of keeping these toxic materials out of local landfills and into recyclable markets in Alabama and the Southeast. Taking a little extra effort to deliver E-waste to a proper collection is worth the effort to our natural resources and our children's future.