Monday, January 24, 2011

Recycling E-Waste

As technology advances, new products are invented and sold to the public at an amazingly fast pace.  So that great television or computer you bought yesterday may be obsolete within a two year period.  The lifespan is even shorter for computers and cell phones. 

Recently, I looked at the area of my garage that was dedicated to obsolete electronics (instead of my car).  I knew I had to do something with all this e-waste if I ever wanted to be able to park my car in the garage again.

So I had to ask myself, when it comes to electronic waste how do I safely dispose of it? 

In California, the disposal of e-waste in landfills was found to have the potential to cause severe human and environmental health impacts.  In order to stop e-waste dumping, the California Senate passed the “Electronic Waste Recycling Act (Senate Bill 50) which came into law in 2004. 

Ok, so I don’t want to break the law, so what now?  Thankfully, the SB 50 established and funded a program for consumers to return, recycle, and ensure safe disposal of e-waste.  You should know there are different types of e-waste, so you need to check with your local e-waste program to find out what covered electronic devices (otherwise known as CEDs) are allowed.  

F.Y.I.:  Cells phones may be returned to retailers who sell them. 

The 10 year old computer monitor,  hard drives, collection of obsolete vcrs & dvd players, coffee maker, printers, etc. still needed to go.

the impressive mountain of e-waste at the drop-off
So I set off to find out how to properly dispose of them.  I found out that the “City of Fountain Valley” was holding an e-waste drop off event.  Not only was this convenient but the actual process of dropping off the items was so easy.  You load the stuff up in your trunk, you drive up to the specified location and they take it right out of your car for you. These guys are fabulous.  They are very organized and get you through as quickly as possible.  I took some pictures of the event so you can get an idea of how much they collect in just a couple of hours.  

Organized, efficient, and most friendly.... program!
By the time I had come through to the front of the line, the event handlers had already filled up one very large truck full of this e-waste. By the way, the organization also has pick up available for a small fee which is a pretty good deal if you do not have a way to transport your e-waste.

One of the trucks being loaded with the e-waste.
What can companies do with the waste?  Well below is a picture of how one company (Two's Company) recycles keyboard keys into useable household decor pieces such a photo frames.  

That same company also sells some very cool purses made from soda can lids.  

Additionally, I found out at my local e-waste collection event that batteries which are considered “household hazardous waste”, are not allowed to be dropped off at this type of event.  That forced me to find out where one can properly dispose of them. I do utilized re-chargeable batteries but even they have a limited amount of times you can re-charge them.  So I called my local trash company and found out they have a special facility to handle this type of waste. 

As for plastic containers, well below is a picture of a lamp from a store display that stops to make you think a bit.....

The light fixture is made up of clean empty plastic containers.  I don't think they actually touched the light heat source because I could not smell that distinct plastic smell. If nothing else, it was an interesting display piece.   However,  you can always place your empty plastic containers in the specified recycle bins provided by your local trash company.

Recycling can be fun and there are unlimited options on what to do with all that stuff piling up in our homes.  Just remember to recycle responsibly!

If you have other things you would like to recycle or upcycle, you should check out ecosalon .  They have some great ideas and links. 


  1. This is a great post. I've recycled with this company as well (All Green Electronics Recycling, so I'm glad that I stumbled across this blog. Recycling responsibly is so important, it's good to see companies make it easy.

    The picture frame made out of computer keys is very cool, but that lamp? It's interesting but not something I'd like in my house!

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