E-Waste Growing Danger

By: Whitney Holmes
By: Whitney Holmes


We can't live without the newest model, but we can live without the old one. So we throw it out. But throwing it out could lead to our doom.

"The biggest problem is leaching into the water table and it can eventually come back as our drinking water," explained Al Fioretti from UVa's recycling department.

Electronics have toxins in them. Toxins are carcinogens. If they are thrown out into a landfill, then the toxins can seep into the water.

If someone drinks this water, then it is possible that person will develop cancer. But there is a reason why people take this risk. It is because recycling electronics is not as easy as recycling a soda can.

"I have gone to organizations where they literally have warehouses with rooms filled with computer monitors because they don't know where to dispose of them," said Paul Crumpler of UVa's Energy Management.

To dispose of large electronics is expensive and most recycling centers do not have the means to separate all the materials.

UVa has taken the first step in tackling electronic recycling, by starting small. The University now has a recycling drop-off for students to take their unwanted small electronics such as CDs, cell phones and ink jets.

It is convenient and good for mother earth, but sometimes half the battle is getting students to think "reduce, reuse, recycle."

"I think that some people just don't think about it," said UVa first year Lori Nelson. "It's so easy to leave your newspaper in the classroom on the floor, when it's just going to be thrown away. All you have to do is take it to the recycling bin outside. That's all it takes."

Although it is not as simple for large electronics, Congress has begun to devise a plan to recycle them. Currently, they are considering charging a surcharge on large electronics that would fund the development of recycling centers.

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