One thing not often discussed is that the compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs that have become popular for their energy saving prowess are also not easily disposed of when they finally require replacement.  These bulbs contain a small amount of mercury and just throwing them into the trash is not a good option.

The EPA says that you can throw them into the landfill if you put them into two sealed, plastic bags (one inside the other) – such as a pair of zipper bags, or sandwich bags.  This has a downside: not only are you throwing the CFL bulb into the landfill, but you’re adding two plastic bags to the mix.  That doesn’t solve anything other than to keep the mercury from bleeding into the ground.

Luckily, there are better options.

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If all mobile devices were recycled, including the now-common cellular and smart phones, many tons of hazardous waste would be saved from our landfills annually. In the State of New York, for instance, cell phone retailers have been required by law since 2007 to accept old wireless phones from consumers for reuse or recycling. Yet many consumers are not aware of this.

The fastest-growing segment of e-waste is handheld gadgets, which are mostly mobile phones. Many tons of these are thrown into the landfill or incinerated annually despite the relative ease with which they can be recycled.

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On Global Earth Day weekend, more than 248 tons (225 metric tonnes) of electronic waste were kept out of landfills during a huge, multi-national e-waste collection event. Recycling facilities and collection points in North America, Austria, Belgium, Germany, India, the Netherlands, South Africa, Sweden and the United Kingdom received the waste that was otherwise destined for landfills around the globe. This is how it should be every day of the year.

The purpose of this Earth Day event was to promote awareness of the need to recycle electrical and electronic equipment, no matter where in the world you live.

472,985 pounds of e-waste were collected in North America from 25 Earth Day events. In other countries, events included beach cleanups, outreach and educational events, monetary donations to local schools for every kilogram collected, and more.

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Most people don’t know that copy machines are a security risk, even after they’re unplugged and sent out for disposal.  Today’s digital copiers – nearly every one manufactured after 2002 and many from before then – use internal hard drives to store information.

Many are unaware that their copy machines actually store scanned images of the things they’ve copied on their hard drives.  If not properly removed, these images can be retrieved by others and full copies of the documents that have been scanned can be retrieved.  The majority of businesses disposing of copy machines – often to the resell market – have no idea that thousands of scanned documents are likely sitting on that machine waiting to be retrieved by thieves who know about this.

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