TRENTON – Unwanted televisions, computers, electronic tablets, e-book readers, and monitors that have been replaced by new electronic holiday gifts cannot be tossed into the trash but must be recycled as required by the state's one-year-old Electronic Waste Management Act, which generated an estimated 40 million pounds of recycled e-waste last year in New Jersey, DEP Commissioner Bob Martin said today.
This is a five-fold increase in e-waste tonnage over the approximately 8 million pounds collected in 2010, and an amount that is expected to increase this year as the program expands and improves in all 21 counties in New Jersey.
"This program has been a great initial success in helping to clean up our state, to ensure these old TVs and computers do not end up in landfills or incinerators,'' said DEP Commissioner Bob Martin. "But we still have to fill gaps in this program to ensure that all appropriate electronic waste is recycled and that everyone has convenient options for recycling.''
Electronic waste makes up 2 percent of the solid waste disposed in New Jersey. But as a result of consumer demand for new technologies, and subsequent disposal of old devices, e-waste is growing two to three times faster than any other component of the solid waste stream.
Those discarded TVs, computers and computer monitors contain lead, mercury, cadmium, nickel, zinc, brominated flame retardants, and other materials. Cathode Ray Tubes, or CRTs, contain large amounts of lead that is used to shield consumers from radiation.
Improperly handling discarded electronics, without proper controls, or simply tossing the materials in the trash can expose hazardous chemical compounds that are known to negatively affect human and environmental health.
The Electronic Waste Management Act, which took effect Jan. 1, 2011, bans disposal of televisions and all personal or portable computers – including desktop, notebook and laptop computers, as well as computer monitors – in the regular waste stream. Manufacturers of these devices now fund the collection of e-waste so that it is free for consumers.
State residents can no longer put TVs, computers and monitors out on the curb for regular trash collection pickup. Instead, these items must be taken to a drop-off point, such as a county or municipal solid waste collection center or a participating electronics retail store. Best Buy stores statewide and community-based service programs, most notably Goodwill Industries and the Salvation Army, also accept these materials.
The Electronic Waste Management Act does not cover cell phones, DVD players, VCRs, game consoles, or other electronic devices, although some retailers and service organizations provide opportunities for recycling these items.
"The DEP is seeking to improve understanding of the e-waste recycling law and improve compliance in 2012 through education, including a planned major e-waste outreach and education campaign,'' said DEP Assistant Commissioner of Environmental Management Jane Kozinski. "So, whether you received a new television, iPad or desktop computer or gave one as a gift, be sure to tell your family and friends of this new system to handle your e-waste.''
Residents should contact their county solid waste agency or municipal recycling coordinator for e-waste recycling options currently available in their cities and towns.
For more information on New Jersey's E-Cycle program, including a list of e-waste recycling locations statewide, a connection to all 21 county recycling web sites, and information for consumers on "front door'' pickup service to deal with extra heavy televisions or for people with special needs, visit: http://www.nj.gov/dep/dshw/ewaste/index.html