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E-Waste Recycling: Why and How

How to Recycle E-Waste Responsibly and Why It Matters

E-waste is a term that refers to electronic devices that are no longer wanted, working, or suitable for repair. Examples of e-waste include computers, smartphones, printers, and TVs. E-waste is the fastest-growing waste stream in the world, with about 50 to 60 million tons generated each year. However, only a small fraction of e-waste is recycled properly, while the rest ends up in landfills, incinerators, or informal dumps, where it poses serious threats to human health and the environment.

The Benefits and Challenges of E-Waste Recycling

E-waste recycling is the process of extracting valuable materials from discarded electronics and reusing them in new products. This helps to conserve natural resources, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, create jobs, and support the circular economy. E-waste contains many precious metals, such as gold, silver, copper, and platinum, as well as rare-earth metals, such as neodymium, dysprosium, and terbium, which are essential for many high-tech applications . Recycling these metals can reduce the need for mining and refining, which are energy-intensive and environmentally damaging activities. Recycling e-waste can also prevent the leakage of toxic substances, such as lead, mercury, cadmium, and beryllium, into the soil, water, and air. These substances can cause serious health problems, such as cancer, neurological damage, respiratory diseases, and reproductive disorders.

However, e-waste recycling also faces many challenges, such as:

  • Lack of awareness and incentives: Many consumers and businesses are not aware of the benefits and options of e-waste recycling or do not have enough incentives to recycle their old electronics. Some may prefer to store them at home or in offices or sell them to informal collectors who may not handle them properly.
  • Lack of collection and infrastructure: Many places do not have adequate collection systems or infrastructure for e-waste recycling. This makes it difficult for consumers and businesses to recycle their e-waste conveniently and safely. Some may resort to dumping their e-waste illegally or exporting it to developing countries where environmental regulations are lax.

The Case of New Jersey’s E-Waste Recycling Law

New Jersey is one of the states that have enacted a law to address the problem of e-waste. The New Jersey Electronic Waste Management Act (NJEWMA) was signed into law in 2009 and took effect in 2011. The law requires manufacturers of covered electronic devices (CEDs) to establish and finance a collection, transportation, and recycling system for their products sold in New Jersey. Today, CEDs include televisions, desktop computers, laptops, monitors, portable computers, printers, and fax machines.

The law prohibits consumers from disposing of CEDs in the regular trash or municipal solid waste stream. Consumers must bring their CEDs to designated collection sites or events where they can be recycled for free. The NJEWMA is administered by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP), which oversees the registration and reporting of manufacturers, the certification and inspection of recyclers, the enforcement and compliance of the law, and the education and outreach to the public. The NJDEP also maintains a list of registered manufacturers, certified recyclers, and authorized collection sites and events on its website.

The Options for Morris County Residents to Recycle E-Waste

Long before the New Jersey mandated the recycling of e-waste, the Morris County Municipal Utilities Authority (MCMUA) conducting collection programs throughout the County. Morris County residents have several options to recycle their e-waste responsibly and conveniently. One option is to contact the manufacturer of their CEDs and ask about their take-back or recycling program. Many manufacturers like Apple, offer free mail-back or drop-off services for their products.

There are a variety of potential local e-waste recycling options available:

  • E-waste is accepted for recycling at most Morris County recycling depots and big box electronic stores throughout the county.
  • The MCMUA accepts e-waste by appointment at its permanent HHW facility in Mt. Olive. There is no charge for e-waste.

    Schedule HHW Appointment 

  • For large quantities or unique service requirements, there are commercial e-waste recycling companies. Electronic Recyclers International, Inc. located in Lincoln Park, Morris County is one such local company.

The MCMUA keeps a listing of local electronics recycling drop-off locations of all the programs types described above. Finally, you can click here to go to the MCMUA’s e-waste page for additional information.

E-Waste Drop-Off List

A final option is to donate or sell their CEDs to a reputable organization or business that can reuse or refurbish them. This can extend the life span of the devices and reduce the need for new ones. Residents can find such organizations or businesses online or in their local communities. However, they should make sure that they erase any personal data from their devices before giving them away and that they receive a certificate of recycling from the recipient.

The Conclusion

E-waste recycling is an important and beneficial activity that can protect human health and the environment, conserve natural resources, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, create jobs, and support the circular economy. However, e-waste recycling also faces many challenges, such as lack of awareness, incentives, collection, infrastructure, standards, regulations, technology, and skills. New Jersey has taken a proactive step to address these challenges by enacting a law that requires manufacturers to take responsibility for their products and consumers to recycle them properly. Morris County residents have several options to recycle their e-waste responsibly and conveniently through contacting manufacturers, visiting collection sites or events, or donating or selling their devices. By recycling e-waste, we can all contribute to a cleaner and greener future.


: What Is E-Waste Recycling and How Is it Done? | Earth.Org
: The Complete E-Waste Recycling Process – Recycle Track Systems
: Electronic waste recycling – Wikipedia
: New Jersey Electronic Waste Management Act (NJEWMA)
: Covered Electronic Devices (CEDs) List
: Morris County Municipal Utilities Authority (MCMUA)