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Passover Spring Cleaning: Recycle Your Electronic Waste the Responsible Way

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Is your house cluttered with obsolete monitors and hard drives, outdated desktops and laptops, old cell phones, televisions, and other electronic waste?  

This spring, when you search for chametz in preparation for Passover, clean out your obsolete electronics too! Bring your old cell phones, computers, monitors, fax machines, printers, and televisions (but not household appliances like refrigerators or air conditioners) to the Lower East Side Ecology Center’s e-waste collection day, curbside at the Sephardic Community Center, 1901 Ocean Parkway (corner Avenue S), Sunday, March 25, 10:00 AM – 3:30 PM. 

Old televisions, cell phones and computers can be recycled.  Many of their components contain valuable copper, precious metals and plastics that can be recovered and used to make new products.  Safe “e-cycling” also conserves natural resources, reduces pollution, and protects your health and the environment from toxic chemicals such as lead and mercury. 

Since the New York State Electronic Equipment Recycling and Reuse Act was signed into law last year, electronic equipment manufacturers are now required to create a convenient system for the collection, handling, and recycling or reuse of discarded electronic waste.  Beginning in 2015, it will be illegal for individuals to dispose of old computers with their trash.  To help make electronic waste recycling convenient for New Yorkers, the Lower East Side Ecology Center is holding a series of events at many locations throughout New York City, including Recycling Day at the SCC.

Two years ago, in its first e-waste recycling event, the SCC collected more than 2,500 lbs of electronic waste.  Last year, we collected more than 10,300 pounds.  Let’s see how much more we can recycle this year!

“The Lower East Side Ecology Center is excited to partner with the Sephardic Community Center to bring electronic waste recycling to this community. Our goal is to collect one million pounds of unwanted electronics this year. We encourage all residents, small businesses, and non-profits to do some spring e-waste cleaning and recycle responsibly,” said Caroline Kruse, Development Director of the Lower East Side Ecology Center.

Since 2003, the Lower East Side Ecology Center has recycled more than 3 million pounds of electronic waste.  In January alone, more than 3,000 households participated in their program and collected 92 tons of material. 

At the e-waste collection this year, all discarded electronics will be brought to the Ecology Center’s E-waste Warehouse in Gowanus, which is also now open for drop-offs year round.  Items are then brought to WeRecycle, a cutting-edge electronics recycling plant that is committed to the highest levels of environmental and social standards. Recycling with the Lower East Side Ecology Center ensures that hazardous components are never exported to developing countries or dumped in landfills. All materials are responsibly recycled or reused locally.

Here’s how it works: When e-waste arrives at the facility, items are pre-sorted to sequester toxic materials and harvest valuable ones.  Items are dismantled and sorted for components such as hard drives and processors that can be salvaged to be reused.  Parts containing toxic materials such as batteries, toners and mercury are removed for further off-site processing. A shredder specifically engineered to process electronics guarantees that data is removed from computers, and motherboards and other circuitry are crushed and mined for gold and other precious metals.  Conveyor belts are equipped with sensors that differentiate between substances such as metal and plastics, which are then sorted into separate streams.  All but 1% or 2% is recyclable. (Gardner, Jr., Ralph, 1/19/2011, the Wall Street Journal)

Some people hold onto their old computers because they fear that their personal information is still in the computer’s hard drive even if they think it has been deleted.  The Lower East Side Ecology Center and WeRecycle guarantee data security by using cutting edge technology to ensure data destruction. Their standards exceed globally accepted best practices for recycling and management of used electronics. Utilizing the same standards as the Department of Defense, they make certain that all sectors of the hard drive are overwritten and all data is erased.  If you choose, you can also clean out your computer yourself. Disk cleaning software may be purchased on several commercial sites, or obtain it free at killdisk.com, dban.org, or shareware.com.  More information is available on epa.gov/plugin.

To keep things simple, for safety and environmental responsibility, bring your old computers to Recycling Day at the SCC. It’s a great way to clear out your e-waste clutter, do your spring cleaning, and prepare for Passover! 

For more information, contact Linda Eber at 718-954-3154, or [email protected]  For questions about e-waste recycling and a full list of events, visit the Ecology Center at www.lesecologycenter.org or call 212-477-4022.  

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