Libraries collect unwanted electronics in DC’s push to improve recycling

It just got a little easier for D.C. residents to recycle unwanted electronic equipment.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced Wednesday that the District’s public libraries will hold electronic recycling events in all eight wards this year to collect computers, keyboards, TVs, video game consoles and more, free of charge.

The program is an extension of the D.C. Department of Energy and Environment’s eCycle DC initiative.

“Expanding eCycle DC increases access to the proper handling of these common household items that, unfortunately, have easy potential to become toxic materials that harm our health and environment,” the department’s Director Tommy Wells said in a statement.

The latest data, from 2015, show U.S. consumers generate more than 3 million tons of electronic gadgets a year; the average American household uses about 28 electronic products. In 2009, 75% of the 2.37 million tons of discarded electronic equipment ended up in the landfill, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Experts say chemicals released from improperly recycled e-waste can pose health and environmental risks.

The first collection events will take place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday at Dorothy I. Height/Benning Library (3935 Benning Rd. NE) and Chevy Chase Library (5625 Connecticut Ave. NW).

Northeast Library (330 7th St. NE) will hold its collection drive on June 22; Woodridge Library (1801 Hamlin St. NE) will collect e-waste on June 29.

“Giving residents convenient locations for the responsible disposal of their used electronic equipment is just one more way in which our libraries serve their communities. The library is proud to help ensure that our city remains at the forefront of innovation in sustainability,” D.C. Public Libraries Executive Director Richard Reyes-Gavilan said in a statement.

D.C. residents can also drop off e-waste at the city’s Fort Totten Transfer Station every Saturday; some retailers, including Best Buy, Verizon Wireless and Target, also have collection bins for electronics.

As part of D.C.’s goal to divert 80% of its waste by 2032 through recycling and other initiatives, electronics were banned from the District’s waste stream in 2018.

D.C. also requires manufacturers of certain electronics sold to collect and recycle a percentage of what they sell. D.C.’s current waste diversion rate hovers around 23%.

Accepted electronics at D.C.’s public library collection events:

Computers and tablets with screens 6 inches or larger
— Desktops
— Laptops
— Tablets
— Small-scale servers

Computer peripherals
— Computer monitors
— Desktop printers less than 100 pounds
— Keyboards
— Mice
— Speakers sold with computers

TVs

TV peripherals
— DVRs, DVD players, VCRs
— Signal converter boxes
— Cable and satellite receivers
— Game consoles used with TVs

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