Old electronics must be recycled this holiday season - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Old electronics must be recycled this holiday season

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MADISON (WKOW) -- If you got a new television or computer for Christmas and want to get rid of the old one, remember, you can't simply throw them in the garbage.

There are a number of electronic recycling options available, but some are more environmentally responsible than others.

The City of Madison's two electronic recycling drop-off sites are both busier than usual this week.

"Lot of televisions come in this time of year and some computers, so we do see things pick up a bit as people are getting new things for the holidays," said George Dreckmann, Recycling Coordinator with the City of Madison.

 But the city does not want you to simply leave those items on the curb.

"We've had so much trouble with those units being vandalized, we now go in and take them right away, but we bill people $40 when we go to pick them up," said Dreckmann.

The fee is $10 for large items at the drop-off sites, but smaller items are free to drop off.  And by leaving them with the city, you know they'll be recycled responsibly.

"Universal Recycling Technologies has a large plant in Janesville and that's where all the work is done, where all the material is broken down," said Dreckmann.  "That's important, because you don't want to send whole units overseas for recycling."

"A lot of the e-waste problems are seen in third world countries where things were dumped off and not taken care of correctly," said Nathan Sillars with Cascade Asset Management of Madison.

Cascade recycles electronics for business clients, many of whom turn over their computer systems at the end of the year.

"We're e-steward certified. That means that we have to track everything down to its last processing point so that we know where it's going and what we're doing with it," said Sillars.

One thing that is not allowed to do by law is to simply dump your electronics in your garbage, because they are prohibited in state landfills.

"Basically, 4 to 6 pounds of lead contained in a regular television and the circuit boards themselves contain a lot of lead and other metals from the soddering, so, just putting that stuff into the ground is definitely not good for the environment," said Sillars.

If you do recycle with a private entity, its important to ask them if they also have e-steward certification.  If they don't, there is no way of knowing where your old electronics may end up and if they will be recycled in a manner that is safe to both humans and the environment.

For instructions on how and where to recycle electronics in your area, click here.

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