The term "electronics" includes more than just televisions, cell phones and computer products. The term also includes DVD players, VCRs, video cameras, digital cameras, gaming consoles, stereos, answering machines, photocopiers, scanners, printers and the list goes on. According to a study by the Consumer Electronics Association, Americans own nearly 3 billion electronic products, or an average of 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. Electronic waste 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. If crushed or improperly disposed, the toxic materials inside the electronics can seep out and contaminate our soil, water and air, potentially harming both people and the environment.
If you have an outdated computer or two in your basement or old cell phones packed away in a box, you're not alone. While most electronics from residences can legally be discarded with household trash, the department recommends reusing, donating or recycling it.
Special Note for Businesses, Non-Profits, Schools
All 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." Reusing or recycling through a legitimate electronics recycler will help ensure that your facility complies with the law. For additional information on the legal requirements, contact the department's Waste Management Program.