There’s an international day for everything it seems, and that includes International E-Waste Day. We’re a little late, but we’ll just pretend it’s October 14th. The theme for this year: “Recycle it all, no matter how small!” That’s an appropriate theme as the international waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) forum reported that 5.3 billion mobile phones will become waste out of 16 billion possessed worldwide in 2022.
Furthermore, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has reported that 43 million metric tonnes of e-waste, including phones and computers, is produced every year, with only 17% of it being recycled while the rest is often sent to low-income countries. Informal workers and children sort through this waste for valuable materials and risk their health doing so. To learn more, read the story.
Why does it matter?
Sourcing virgin materials (new materials) like oil, iron, gold, and other elements used to make electronics including mining, transportation, and processing emits greenhouse gases and uses natural resources. Electronics can be refurbished and/or recycled to reuse parts and extend product lifespans, reducing the need to source new materials and associated environmental impacts.
Recycling and properly disposing of unused electronics also reduces the chances of them contaminating other waste streams and causing unsafe conditions. The EPA is working on long-term, sustainable management of e-waste to reduce the harmful effects of improper disposal on the environment and improper handling where e-waste is sent. Learn more about electronics management from the EPA.
Where do I recycle e-waste?
The state of Oregon has a state-wide program called Oregon E-Cyles as part of the state’s Electronics Recycling Law. The program provides free recycling of certain devices (seven or fewer at a time) to collection sites. Learn more about the Oregon law.
Deschutes County recycles covered electronic devices (CEDs) for free and non-covered electronic devices (NCEDs) for a fee when generated from households.
Covered Electronic Devices (CEDs)
- Computer monitors
- CPUs (towers and desktops)
- TVs (tube, projection, flat screen)
Non-Covered Electronic Devices (NCEDs)
- Cash registers
- Cell phones and telephones
- Disk drives and pc boards
- DVD/VHS players
- Fax machines
- Microwave ovens
- Speakers and cables
- Surge Protectors
Learn more about e-waste from Knott Recycling Center, including what can be recycled and other disposal locations.
- Not sure where or what to recycle in Central Oregon? Head to the Environmental Center’s E-Waste site.
- Check out UNEP’s e-waste infographic for more basics.