In advance of Super Bowl XLVIII, The NY/NJ Super Bowl Host Committee announced the launch of an electronic waste recycling program for the greater New York City area. Two events scheduled in January will collect unwanted electronic devices from the public in an effort to encourage safer disposal practices. The events are part of a growing e-waste recycling movement nationwide to prevent electronic devices from being disposed in landfills and reduce energy consumption used in manufacturing electronic products.
To many people, devices like an old desktop computer running Windows XP or a circa 2003 flip phone, do not inspire the stuff of Erin Brockovich-like exposés, but the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency lists several hazards from improper disposal. Toxic metals like lead, nickel, cadmium and mercury can be found in circuit boards and would be harmful if they leaked into the soil and underground water sources.
Anyone familiar with aluminum processing appreciates the benefits of recycling cans and other aluminum products. The more manufacturers can get raw aluminum from recycled product, the less they have to rely on costly, energy-consuming bauxite refining.
A similar benefit comes from recycling circuit boards. A metric ton of circuit boards has anywhere from 40 to 800 times the amount of gold than a metric ton of ore. Other useful metals like silver, tin, copper, palladium and platinum can also be extracted. Recycling one million laptops saves the amount of electricity that over 3,600 homes would use in one year.
The movement to recycle e-waste has been active for several years; the NY/NJ Super Bowl Host Committee’s announcement is only a recent example of the widespread practice. Many major cities have e-waste facilities or events where the public can drop off items for recycling.
E-waste recycling is also available in smaller cities. Laramie, Wyoming (population 30,000) has a program dispose of e-waste that went into effect in 2007. For a fee, residents can drop off their e-waste at the local landfill, where it will be diverted for recycling. Over 300 tons of waste has been recycled in the program’s history.
For probably the past 20 years, the Super Bowl has been more about issues not directly related to the game than the game itself. With so many eyes on the event, anything promoted in connection with it will receive lots of attention.
Although e-waste recycling is not a new concept, increasing awareness of these programs is badly needed, given the growing number of electronic devices the average person owns. The NJ Super Bowl Host Committee picked a great cause to rally behind with its promotion of e-waste recycling events.
Edited by Cassandra Tucker