Electronics Recycling in St Louis
Of the 3.1 million tons of electronics Americans discarded in 2015, 80% ended up in landfills, according to the EPA. This is both an environmental problem and a lost opportunity, as consumer electronics contain precious metals such as gold and silver that can be reclaimed by electronics recycling, and heavy metals and hazardous chemicals that should not be in our air or ground water.
Heavy metals such as lead, cadmium, chromium, and arsenic are needed in small amounts for our phones and computers to work. Individual electronics don’t pose any risk, but when we magnify them by millions of computers and phones, and then allow the heavy metals to leach into the groundwater from landfills, they become a public health problem.
Proper recycling of electronics includes isolating and sequestering the heavy metals and toxic waste materials, and disposing of them properly, while breaking down the other components into plastics, metals, and other recyclables. Once broken down, the materials can be turned into new products. But the proper handling of heavy metals and toxic waste requires specialized training and proper registration with state and local agencies.
Companies that manufacturer consumer electronics such as phones and computers are required to have a recovery plan that includes how to recover and recycle the electronics they sell. But the plan is not binding on the consumer, and in many locales, including St. Louis, households are allowed to throw electronics away in the household trash.
Missouri’s Department of Natural Resources has a voluntary registry for companies that are equipped to manage consumer electronics recycling safely. However, there are still a limited number of places where consumers can dispose of their old electronics safely and easily, knowing they won’t end up in landfills. Scrap Mart Metals can handle the electronics recycling chore, and they have a new drive-thru and drop off center to make electronic recycling easier.
Have a question about how we can help recycle consumer electronics? Get in touch!