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Computers, TVs must be recycled starting July 1

Posted June 12, 2011
Updated June 17, 2011

— North Carolina residents won't be able to just throw broken televisions and aged-out computers in the trash starting July 1.

A new law taking affect that day will help keep hazardous materials, such as cadmium and mercury, out of the ground and water near landfills and allow valuable parts from electronic equipment to be reused, said N.C. recycling coordinator Scott Mouw.

"North Carolina has one of the best marketplaces in the country for recycling electronic equipment," Mouw said. "We just need to motivate people to do the right thing with their electronic stuff."

The average person tosses five to six pounds of electronic equipment each year, and most of those items contain materials that are valuable and could be reused, said Ellen Lorscheider, planning and programs manager for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

"The recycling industry is growing, and they need to be able to harvest, especially the metals," she said. 

The law addresses only televisions and computer equipment, such as desktop monitors, printers, scanners and keyboards. But other electronics, from smart phones to GPS systems, may also be recycled at many sites.

Fees paid by electronics manufacturers and retailers in the state are used to pay for recycling programs operated by counties and municipalities, Lorscheider said.

County will recycle electronics County will recycle electronics

About $475,000 was paid into that fund last year, and 61 of the state's 100 counties have established electronics recycling programs, she said.

Consumers can check out the DENR website for a list of recycling programs throughout the state.

Working but slightly outdated electronics are eagerly accepted by some nonprofits. Others may be refurbished and resold by electronics processors, Mouw said.

The individual working parts are removed from nonworking electronics, then the rest is ground up to extract re-useable materials, such as metal and glass, he said.

"The processors try to capture just as much value as they can," Mouw said.

The recycled parts also help North Carolina because the state is home to about a half-dozen major electronic processing companies, more than most other states, Mouw said.

There also are other recycling options. In North Carolina, computer makers are required to offer free and convenient recycling programs, including a postage-paid mail-in option.

Televisions are accepted by many retailers like Staples and Best Buy, but there are certain exclusions.


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  • davidgnews Jun 17, 2011

    Recycling is not a fraud. Have you seen the price of gold lately? There are plenty of cards with gold edges out there just waiting to be reclaimed.

    I saw someone dump a monitor the other day at the convenience site. I would have taken it, because only afterward did nb the guy said it still worked fine.

    The Durant Rd. waste site takes a/c units, monitors, paints, chemicals, as well as trash.

    There are also places like Purple Elephant where you can donate monitors and computers if they're in reasonable working order, and they go to a good cause.

  • 27615 Jun 17, 2011

    yeah i'll be sure to get on that right away...not

  • mm4218 Jun 17, 2011

    The Nanny State strikes again. I will throw my computers and TVs out in the regular trash with impunity.

    Recycling is a fraud. It all goes to the same place.

  • xxxxxxxxxxxxx Jun 17, 2011

    Well, contrary to the negative comments posted here, I'm happy abut this. I have some old computers and appliances cluttering up my house that I don't know how to get rid of and I, unlike others, don't want them to end up on the side of the road or in a landfill.

    And I agree with fayncmike - I have a bunch of other junk that I would like to get rid of but don't know how to recycle them.

  • PanthersFan45 Jun 17, 2011

    I have no problem with the law but I'm wondering how you really enforce it. I've seen some of the comments on here and what they think may happen starting July 1st. I tend to agree with nearly all of the comments posted. The comment about seeing them behind Food Lion is funny. I bring my recylables there and you would be amazed what kinds of trash gets tossed in there !!

  • nighttrain2010 Jun 17, 2011

    >>perhaps you should read up on the truth about "electronics recycling programs". It all ends up going to China where it is promptly dumped there instead of here

    Either there or it's dumped in Africa


    Either way, it's dumped somewhere other than what the law intends. As RKBA said, just another feel good law with no way to enforce it.

  • tommyblanchard2 Jun 17, 2011

    sorry, ill put my used stuff on craigslist

  • WRALSUCKS Jun 17, 2011

    Yep. More dumped behind Food Lion, etc.

    Feel good law with negative consequences.

  • davisgw Jun 13, 2011

    When this takes effect you will see electronics added to the couches, chairs and white appliances thrown out on the country roads. Is it really cost effective for DOT to have to clean up the mess?

  • dcatz Jun 13, 2011

    GravyPig, perhaps you should read up on the truth about "electronics recycling programs". It all ends up going to China where it is promptly dumped there instead of here.

    Electronics recycling isn't cheap or profitable unless you do it in a way that pollutes. By forcing companies to offer recycling programs for free, they are forced into taking these kinds of shortcuts.

    Also, the Republicans may have control of the legislature now but laws like this generally take a while before they become active. This particular law was passed last year, when the democrats still had control of the legislature.

    And yes, people should be compensated. I have something that you, as a recycler, want. The last thing we need in this economy is for more added burden on the working and middle classes. What if you live in a rural area and are 50 miles from the nearest electronics recycler?