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'Tis The Season To Reduce E-Waste

November 29, 2010

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - Consumers scored heavily discounted electronics over the weekend. But disposing of old gadgets such as televisions, gaming devices and computers - also known as e-waste - is an increasing problem.

E-waste is considered the fastest growing waste stream in landfills. An estimated 300 million electronic items are thrown out each year, and less than 20 percent of that e-waste is recycled or reused.

Renee Bungart with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources says the problem is that electronics often contain toxic chemicals, such as lead.

"If they're not properly disposed of, those chemicals and metals can pollute our environment through the soil or water."

To help consumers, Bungart says, the DNR has a list of registered electronics recycling businesses throughout the state available at www.ecyclemissouri.org. She also suggests consumers call the solid waste division in their city to find out about e-cycling events.

Missouri now has a law that addresses e-waste. Bungart says the manufacturer must specify how it will collect and recycle equipment purchased since July of this year. But for older gadgets, Bungart points out that giving them away is also an option.

"If someone has equipment that is still working, they can donate it to schools or churches or other facilities that don't have a television or computer. This helps decrease the amount of waste going into our landfills. "

Most electronics stores, such as Best Buy and Apple, also have take-back programs to help recycle old gadgets.

Heather Claybrook, Public News Service - MO