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New York tackles e-waste

When shiny new laptops roll out each year and your cell phone plan runs out, it’s tempting to chuck that ancient first generation toy and upgrade to a new one. But without recycling options, many of these obsolete gadgets contribute to an estimated increase of 40 million tonnes of “e-waste” every year, according to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). While the physical amount of waste itself is concerning and immediate, a more insidious threat comes from the toxic chemicals present in these components which can leak into the soil and air over time.

old computersMany large companies, such as Apple, already offer recycling programs. But a new state law which came into effect this past Friday in New York makes it mandatory for all producers to provide free recycling services for their electronic products. Aimed at being environmentally friendly, simple, and convenient, the New York Times reports that efforts may be getting off to a slower start than initially hoped due to lack of information and advertising.

The new rules require manufacturers to pay for the collection, handling and recycling of electronic products, such as cell phones, computer hardware, TV’s, and other goods, which will be enforced by the State Department of Environmental Conservation. While companies may use any combination of pick-ups, mail or drop offs to collect goods, many companies are partnering with local organizations to coordinate drop-off sites for consumers.

With this new law, New York joins about two dozen other forward-thinking states who have committed to reducing e-waste.

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