If you have an outdated computer or two in your basement or old cell phones packed away in a box, you're not alone. According to a study by the Consumer Electronics Association, Americans own approximately 24 electronic products per household. With a constant supply of newer, faster electronic products on the market, older models are continually replaced. As a result, electronics have become one of the fastest growing waste streams. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimated that of the 2.25 million tons of televisions, cell phones and computer products that were disposed in 2007, approximately 80 percent ended up in landfills. All the gold, copper, silver, leaded glass and other recyclable materials used in those products was buried instead of being recovered and reused.

E-scrap includes more than just televisions, cell phones and computer products. The terms also includes DVD players, VCRs, video cameras, digital cameras, gaming consoles, stereos, answering machines, photocopiers/scanners and printers. E-scrap has become an issue of national importance, not only because of the amount produced, but also because of the various toxic materials and heavy metals located inside these items. Electronics can contain lead, arsenic, chromium, cadmium, mercury, beryllium, nickel, zinc, copper, silver, gold and brominates flame retardants. When disposed of carelessly, the toxic materials inside the electronics can be harmful to both people and the environment. The toxic materials can seep out and contaminate our soil, water and air if that product gets crushed or improperly incinerated. Electronics recycling and refurbishing of older electronic devices for reuse are options for unwanted electronics while keeping them out of the landfill.

Managing the Waste

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources recognized the e-scrap management problems and took steps to reduce the risks to human health and the environment. In February 2006, the department organized a workgroup to get input on what direction Missouri should take to manage e-scrap. The workgroup members included private, public and nonprofit recycles, federal, state and local governments, manufacturers, environmental groups and retail organizations. The workgroup developed resources designed to provide the public with how and where to recycle electronics. The resources provide electronic equipment recyclers and demanufacturers with best management practices for collecting, processing and transporting e-scrap in Missouri in a way that protects the environment. Also the workgroup developed resources to help individuals and businesses choose a recycler that best meets their needs by creating a tiered registration program for Missouri e-cycling businesses.

Why Recycle Electronics?

Electronics can contain chromium, cadmium, mercury, beryllium, nickel, zinc and brominated flame retardants. Properly reusing or recycling electronics prevents these heavy metals and other toxic materials from polluting our environment.To Create Local Jobs - Existing companies will hire more people to meet the growing workload.
Electronics contain many reusable materials, recycling these materials can prevent environment disruption and save energy
To Support Your Community - donate your unwanted, working electronics to a school or charity

Missouri Laws and Regulations

While most electronics from residences can legally be discarded with household trash, the department recommends exploring other options, like recycling or donating. Businesses, charities, non-profits, schools, churches and public and governmental agencies in Missouri cannot legally discard certain electronics in Missouri landfills. They are required by federal and state law to properly manage certain unwanted electronics. Electronics classified as a hazardous waste must be regulated as a hazardous waste under the Missouri Revised Statutes, Sections 260.350 to 260.430, RSMo, also known as the "Missouri Hazardous Waste Management Law."

The “Manufacturer Responsibility and Consumer Convenience Equipment Collection and Recovery Act,” Sections 260.1050 to 260.1101, RSMo, was signed into law in 2008. The law assigned many duties to computer equipment manufacturers, retailers and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

The Electronics Scrap Management rule, which is located in the Code of State Regulations at 10 CSR 25-19.010, outlines the standards for recycling or reuse of covered equipment used by an individual primarily for personal or home business use and returned to the manufacturer by a consumer or collected by a manufacturer in this state and do not impose any obligation on an owner or operator of a solid waste facility. For more information on the Electronics Scrap Management rule requirements, please visit the following website or contact the Hazardous Waste Program by email.


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