How To Toss Computers

Indianapolis, IN

#1 Jan 24, 2006
The Indiana Recycling Coalition has taken a smart step by using technology to educate Hoosiers on how to safely dispose of obsolete technology. The amount of “e-scrap” created in Indiana is growing. A new Web site and public information campaign about best ways to dispose of outdated electronics is a smart step in dealing with the problem.
Technology makes life easier, and Hoosiers, like the rest of the nation, are increasingly dependent on electronic gadgets and gizmos. And, as anyone who owns a computer, cell phone, TV, MP3 player, PDA, etc., knows, manufacturers are already stocking shelves with new and improved technology even before there is time to remove the shrink wrap from your latest purchase. Keeping up with the latest technology is difficult; safely disposing of the piles of antiquated technology is even more difficult.
According to the Web site ( ), Hoosiers discard 1.2 million computers and TVs each year. The average life of a cell phone is 18 months. An estimated 130 million cell phones went out of service in 2005 in the U.S.
The sheer volume of waste is daunting, but more daunting is the environmental and health hazards these unwanted electronics create. The average discarded computer monitor or television contains at least 4 pounds of lead. Electronic devices also contain mercury, cadmium, chromium and flame retardant chemicals that should not be incinerated or sent to the local landfill.
When these substances are disposed of improperly, they create health and environmental problems. Overexposure to these toxic metals can wreak havoc on the immune, respiratory, reproductive and central nervous systems. It can damage kidney and heart functioning. Excessive exposure is especially harmful to the development of infants and children.
The coalition’s Web site also gives information on the best way to safely dispose of unwanted equipment. And, rightly, Indiana Recycling is not shy about pointing out that the best way to dispose of old electronics is not the cheapest.(Disposal options vary depending on where you live and the number of items that need to be discarded.) It is also not shy about pointing out the legal requirements of discarding archaic technology.
Most computers, cell phones and PDAs house a large amount of confidential data that nobody would want to fall into the wrong hands. Just in case protecting the environment is not enough to compel Hoosiers to properly dispose of electronics, hopefully, the fear of identity theft and legal liability will.

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