Did you know the number of obsolete, broken or irreparable electronic products in households and businesses across the United States is growing at three times the rate of household trash? Further, did you know hazardous chemicals and substances such as mercury, arsenic, cadmium, lead, chromium and bromine can be found in these electronics? The need for educational information to respond to community needs related to electronic waste or e-waste management is becoming increasingly important. It is for this reason the Alabama Cooperative Extension System developed the AAMU/ACES E-Waste Institute.
The E-Waste Institute works to disseminate information, raise public awareness and influence public policies about e-waste across the state of Alabama. The initiative, which was developed in 2008, does this by conducting awareness campaigns, workshops and seminars, distributing informational publications and holding drives and training classes. “One of the biggest initiatives is e-cycling drives, which are held in major metropolitan areas within the state,” said Dr. Karnita Golson-Garner, an urban Extension environmental specialist. “These e-cycling drives foster partnership development and allow citizens to drop off a variety of electronics, both big and small.”
In addition to these drives, a Small Electronic Waste Recycling Program is available in Madison, Mobile, Montgomery, Houston and Lawrence counties. This program allows citizens to drop off smaller electronic products, such as cell phones and ink cartridges, at their convenience, which are properly recycled by The Funding Factory, a national organization that partners with the E-Waste Institute.
“As it may not be feasible to hold a drive every year because of associated costs and the fact that people will have already recycled their electronics in previous years, the Small Electronic Waste Recycling Program is an on-going effort during the time drives are not provided,” explained Garner.
“Going forward we are interested in enhancing and improving our efforts at the state level. However, e-waste is not just a statewide problem, it is a global problem. Therefore, we want to promote the program more on the national level,” stated Garner. “Letting people know that properly recycling electronic waste helps to protect our natural resources is an important message.”
To learn more about the E-Waste Institute take a look at institute’s website.