GREENSBORO, N.C. — As you're up in the attic digging out holiday decorations, take a good look at all of your 'junk.'
Do you have old televisions, broken computers and jammed printers lying around? Before you replace those electronics with all the latest and greatest gadgets from Santa, it might be time to do some fall cleaning.
Viewer Angela Safrit asked, "Please VERIFY the best way to dispose of old electronics -- old computers, laptops, etc. What is the best way to do this and keep any personal information safe?"
It is illegal to throw away TV and computer electronics in NC, but there are easy ways to recycle them for free.
WHAT WE FOUND
The Electronics Take Back Coalition notes North Carolina is one of 25 states with legislation mandating electronics recycling.
In most cases, manufacturers pay for the recycling. In NC, it is illegal to throw away most electronics. A 2011 law expanded the state's e-recycling program, banning televisions and computer equipment -- like monitors, printers and scanners -- from the landfill. The goal was to find an environmentally-friendly and secure way to get rid of them.
Over time, the plan has evolved. Most NC cities and counties have e-recycling centers. Guilford Co. has three, including ECOFLO in Greensboro. That is where environmental compliance specialist Eddie Raynard oversees 2 million pounds of electronics recycled every year.
"The facilities have been around since 1994. It's amazing how some people know about the facilities and others you talk to go, 'Oh, I'm so glad you're doing this; I've never heard of this before,'" Raynard said.
He acknowledged there is consumer concern about recycling items that could contain personal data -- like an old laptop that no longer will turn on. Raynard emphasized the safety and security of the e-recycling process. For example, ECOFLO takes weekly loads to a secured local recycling plant called Synergy, which has a stringent process.
"They wipe their computers clean and also send the hard drives through a shredder that shreds the hard drive. They even separate the color of the plastic -- like the white plastic from your computer from the black and metals that are also extracted. It is an amazing process," Raynard said.
The cost to recycle electronics is free to individual households, but businesses must pay for the service.
If you're caught throwing away a recyclable electronic, Raynard said the punishment ranges anywhere from a warning to a hefty fine.
Note larger appliances, like stoves, washing machines, refrigerators, etc. can't go to the landfill, either. Municipalities typically have separate recycling facilities for those. Greensboro's is the Guilford County White Goods, Tire and Scrap Yard.
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