These Common Items Can’t Be Tossed in the Trash Anymore

Written by Lorraine Chow

Chances are, many Americans received shiny, new gadgets for the holidays — meaning their old electronics will either collect dust in a closet somewhere or get tossed out.

These unwanted laptops, tablets and printers contribute to the enormous amount of electronic waste, or “e-waste,” that continually piles up in our landfills. According to the EPA, 3.4 million tons of tech gear was trashed in 2012, and unfortunately, only 12.5 percent of e-waste is currently recycled.

Not only this an environmental nightmare, e-waste also negatively affects our health. As states, “E-waste represents 2 percent of America’s trash in landfills, but it equals 70 percent of overall toxic waste. The extreme amount of lead in electronics alone causes damage in the central and peripheral nervous systems, the blood and the kidneys.”

Without a federal mandate on e-waste, it’s up to individual states to take the lead. One such state is New York.

To combat this growing health and environmental threat, starting on Jan. 1, it will be illegal for New York state residents to toss out electronics on the curb along with their regular trash. This law encompasses just about all the electronic equipment that New Yorkers commonly own, such as computers, DVD players and televisions (see the full list here). Under the new law, residents will have to properly recycle their gizmos or pay a $100 fine per violation. (The state has different regulations for other electronic items such as cell phones and rechargeable batteries.)

“Electronic equipment, which often contains lead, mercury and cadmium, now makes up the largest and fastest growing component of the hazardous materials entering the waste stream,” Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia tells NY1.

New York already has the most comprehensive e-waste recycling law in the nation (it offers free collection and recycling for a whole slew of products), so this new law is just taking it a step further.
To help residents learn about the new e-waste law, the city of New York created a 30-second ad to play in taxi cabs and local channels.

New York State Bans Electronics in Curbside Trash

It’s still legal to dump old electronics in a number of states, but the good news is that half of the states (see which ones on this map) have passed some kind of legislation for recycling on the disposal and recycling of electronics, and more states are considering similar laws.


Recycle Your Phone, Save the Gorillas

One Company’s Quest to Reduce Electronic Waste in Landfills

This post originally appeared on NationSwell.

Photo credit: Thinkstock


Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill3 years ago

This is more Nanny State! I try to recycle, but you can't do everything.

Julia Cabrera-Woscek

We need to reuse and recycle everything possible.

Fi T.
Past Member 3 years ago

Make good use of our resources

Harry S Nydick
Past Member 3 years ago

We have had such a law in New Jersey, for nearly seven years - and it includes even such things as old TVs, vacuum cleaners, etc. What I find disturbing, however, is that, within the past few months, my town has closed its drop-off spot. Now, I must drive 10 or more miles, round trip, to drop them at a landfill site. That means fossil fuel burning and wear and tear on my car and accessories such as tires. This closing can only be meant as a cost-saving venture for the town, though can be a hardship on older people who do not drive. Exactly how are they to comply, when some electronic has passed on? Simply put, the climate would be far better served if the old way had been maintained, because 50 to 100 people, or more, could drop items off to be hauled away at one time, using less gasoline to pollute and offsetting other expenses as well..
If the slight expense to the town were so great, it could simply have charged one dollar for dropping things off. That would have more than covered the expense of hauling away.
BTW, if these things all contain so much lead, why are we dumping them in a landfill?

Jennifer H.
Jennifer H3 years ago

My state has banned street disposal for a few years now. We can take it to the e-waste disposal site for no cost. It is easy.

Nikki Davey
Nikki Davey3 years ago

Recycling needs to be consistent so more people know where to take what to get it recycled

Heidi Wood
Heidi Wood3 years ago

T.v , radios, stereos and the like can also be taken to Best Buy. They will only accept 3 per day if you don't have anywhere else to go.

Jane R.
Jane R3 years ago

This is a good thing but I want to know how they will be able to catch and fine people tossing these things in with their other trash. Does someone go through every trash can before it's picked up to see what's inside? I doubt it.

Kamia T.
Kamia T3 years ago

I accumulate any decimated computers and/or cell phones, and recycle them all at once about every two years. If you're living in the UK, Hillshire animal sanctuary can take them and get contributions for the precious metals most have, so it's a win/win.

feather w.
Feather W3 years ago

we really need to clean up this planet..