How Big Is Your E-Waste “Secret”?

[Photo: Mosman Council, Creative Commons]

It is in your home, and in your office, lurking around in the deep dark recesses of your basement or closet – a collection of old electronics that have been stored away, taking up valuable space. Just how big is this “secret” e-waste stash that everyone has? We recently got a hint.

To mark America Recycles Day on November 15, tenants at 520 Eight Avenue, a 26-story high rise office building in mid-town Manhattan, were invited to bring in used and unwanted electronic items for recycling in a safe, environmentally friendly manner. The e-waste event exceeded all expectations. In just two hours, we collected an astounding amount of e-waste – over 2484 pounds!

Did you know that a typical building usually generates close to one ton of e-waste every few months? This is partly because the rapid pace of technology has made many functional gadgets obsolete.

At 520 Eight Avenue, tenants brought in old technologies like VHS players, tape decks and fax machines that have probably been in storage for quite a few years, but we also saw many newer gadgets that still had life in them.

Over half the total amount of e-waste collected – over 1026 pounds worth – consisted of old computers and computer parts. Outdated printers (499 pounds) and TVs (over 118 pounds) were the next biggest category of items, followed by phones, which weighed in at over 315 pounds.

[See how much e-waste we collected over two weeks at another building.]

So even if you do not see e-waste around the office, it is being stored somewhere.  Ask your sustainability officer or consultant to install a year-round e-waste program in your office or building if one does not already exist. A proper electronics recycling system will have designated bins and areas for safe e-waste collection, with regular pick-ups that can free up valuable space in your office.

Remember, e-waste should NOT be placed in the trash, left in the hallways or in the freight areas for disposal. Find out if your building has an e-waste program by contacting your Great Forest consultant or building manager.


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