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.

Add to those handhelds the rechargeable batteries, computers, charge converters (“charging cords”), and other electronics tossed into the garbage by the average household and you have huge amounts of toxic waste going to landfills and incinerators every day. About 70% of the toxic heavy metals found in landfills nationally are from electronics – toxic metals that seep into waterways and air.

Tehmina Brohi at policymic.com has a novel solution that could help many communities reduce their e-waste: set up recycling centers through universities and other learning campuses (http://www.policymic.com/debates/8442/recycling-your-iphone-could-save-new-york-city-from-tons-of-hazardous-waste).

If technical, community, graduate and other colleges were to do this, some of the people in our society who use technology the most (those aged 18-35) would be naturally very near to convenient disposal facilities for their gadgets. This would also give communities, at large, easily-located and well-known drop off sites for their electronics to increase the number of households recycling e-waste, not to mention the exercise they would get going to the disposal facilities.

Coordination of the logistics behind these e-waste drop points could be coordinated through manufacturers, recyclers, and other businesses involved in (and often mandated to deal with) e-waste.

This is a great idea that deserves some publicity and comment. It is amazing that the press hasn’t picked up and discussed more about this topic yet.