Electronic waste, or e-waste, is the fastest growing waste stream. Each year, consumers and businesses discard tens of millions of televisions, computers, cell phones, and other electronic products. Recent studies show that the component materials of electronic items threaten human health and the environment, especially water and air. Cathode ray tubes (CRTs), the glass picture tubes found in television and computer monitors, contain five to eight pounds of lead. Computers contain heavy metals such as lead, chromium, nickel and zinc. Plastics used in casings are often difficult to sort and recycle, and can pose a health and safety risk to workers. More and more, landfills refuse to accept electronic products or charge a hefty disposal fee. Local and state governments are imposing strict guidelines on proper disposal.
Each year, Goodwill of Orange County receives million pounds of electronics through its donation stream. Ten to 30 percent of electronic donations are e-waste, and safely recycling or disposing these products directly impacts Goodwill’s job training and career services throughout the county. E-waste is either recycled or resold through Goodwill’s Computer Works Store in Santa Ana or online through shopgoodwill.com.
As a State Certified Collector of e-waste, Goodwill of Orange County refurbishes, de-manufactures or re-sells unusable computers and their components. Goodwill does not disassemble monitors or televisions, but sells them to State Certified Recyclers who ensure that the products are disassembled in the US and do not go overseas. All other computer components are disassembled by Goodwill and sold as commodities, in compliance with California’s policies and procedures for collections of e-waste.
In addition to preserving our environment, Goodwill’s recycling work translates into jobs and training opportunities for people who are unemployed. By repairing and rebuilding computers, Goodwill program participants learn to be computer technicians, and our recycling programs create new work opportunities. Any revenues from these programs enable us to enhance and expand our overall services to the community.
It’s easy to donate electronics when you drop off your other unwanted items or stop by one of the scheduled e-waste collection events near you.