Old television sets and computer monitors, you see them on the side of the road forgotten and abandoned, maybe with a “rejected” sticker. Just what should you be doing with them? These TVs and many other electronic devices such as cell phones, DVD players, computer towers, laptops and much more should be recycled. Here are some myths and facts about how this works:
• Myth: The town trash collection should just take it.
• Fact: On Jan. 1, 2011, the state of New Jersey banned all computers, monitors, laptops, tablets, mobile phones and televisions from being disposed of in a landfill. This is due to the lead content in the screens as well as nickel, mercury and other potentially hazardous materials that might leach out in a landfill.
• Myth: My friend says he can make some money taking my TV for scrap.
• Fact: The salvage method commonly used to “scrap” a television involves breaking the picture tube. The broken glass of the tube contains lead, which is now hazardous waste since it is broken. It then needs special disposal, which can cost thousands of dollars for the local, county and state governments to clean up. This is an unnecessary expenditure of tax dollars.
• Myth: What do I care? I’m paying for disposal with tax dollars either way?
• Fact: Current e-waste disposal programs in New Jersey are funded by the TV and computer manufacturers and are required by law to be free to municipalities throughout the state. All waste recycled responsibly lowers the local town’s trash disposal costs.
• Myth: All that e-waste gets picked over by children in Third World countries to harvest precious metals.
• Fact: New Jersey law requires proof of responsible disposal of these devices. Recyclers must ensure that there has been no risk to public health or the environment even if the materials are sent overseas.
The EPA tells us only 13 percent of e-waste gets recycled in our country. Considering Americans discard 9.4 million tons of electronics each year, that isn’t much. We also throw out as many as 350,000 mobile phones every day. Please stop and think before you throw these things in the trash. Many towns have monthly collections for these items but each municipality may do things a little differently. Be sure to call your town and see how they handle e-waste — it might be easier than you think.
For Hamilton Township residents only, (ID required) there is an e-waste drop off the first Saturday of every month from 9 a.m. to noon at the Public Works yard, 5500 Atlantic Ave., Mays Landing.
Sustainable Township of Hamilton Green Team meets 6:30 p.m. the first Thursday of the month at Township Hall, conference Room A. Please come out and see what the Green Team is planning next.