Don't recycle 'e-waste' with haste, activists warn
Consumers saddled with old cellphones, TVs and computers are flocking to electronics recycling events, which have sprung up in more than 1,000 communities over the past four years.
But don't be fooled, activists warn. Items collected at free events are sometimes destined for salvage yards in developing nations, where toxins spill into the water, the air and the lungs of laborers paid a few dollars per day to extract materials.
E-waste disposal rates are poised to accelerate in the run-up to a nationwide switch to digital television signals in February. Less than 20% of all electronic waste is recycled, according to the EPA. The rest ends up in landfills.
The EPA is developing a set of voluntary certification standards for electronics recyclers. In the meantime, consumers seeking peace of mind may need to keep doing their homework.