USA Today News examines the growing trend where states are banning the disposal of electronics.
Electronics can contain lead, mercury, cadmium and other potentially harmful chemicals. In 2010, Americans threw 1.8 million tons of e-waste into the landfill, according to the US EPA.
Seventeen states have banned electronic waste from landfills, requiring it to be recycled so its toxic materials don't leach into groundwater. Seven of these bans took effect this year with Connecticut, Indiana, New Jersey, New York (for businesses), North Carolina, South Carolina and Vermont. Two more will take effect soon: Illinois in January 2012 and Pennsylvania in January 2013.
"The disposal bans are starting to kick in," says Barbara Kyle of the Electronics TakeBack Coalition, which promotes recycling. She says most are part of broader e-waste laws that increase recycling options.
Disposal bans by itself are not effective because consumers who do not have access to convenient recycling options will likely throw the devices in the landfill. Fortunately, there are 25 states that have passed e-waste recycling laws, 15 of which include disposal bans. Massachusetts and New Hampshire have independent bans.
California has a disposal ban since 2006 and an e-waste law since 2003. Almost 4 million cell phones and 200 million pounds of ewaste are recycled annually.
Check out where you can recycle your electronics.
Learn more about CAW’s efforts to support e-waste recycling. Please support our work on e-waste and make a tax-deductible donation today.