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Giving old electronics new life
Ecycle Press Conference photo
Rep. Laurie Slade Funderburk speaks at a press conference last week in the Rotunda of the State House announcing a joint House and Senate resolution declaring April 30, 2011, as South Carolina eCycles Day. Rep. Funderburk is joined at the podium by Members of the House and Senate and recycling industry representatives.

Unwanted computers, printers, televisions, and other devices comprise one of the nation’s fastest-growing waste streams. Inspired by the concerns of several constituents, I advocated and sponsored legislation over the course of several years to address this problem. Through collaboration with other legislators, manufacturers, recyclers, and the environmental community this effort culminated in the passage of legislation in 2010 that makes South Carolina a leader in responsibly managing this waste while protecting our environment and growing our economy.

The e-scrap waste stream provides a challenge beyond the amount of material being generated. E-scrap contains metals and other materials that can be hazardous to human health and the environment if not managed properly.

Recycling electronics and other materials also conserves natural resources, saves energy, reduces the need to build landfills, and turns what would have been waste into valuable raw materials. Recycling also helps create jobs and grow businesses that recover materials and turns them into new products – an industry that already contributes $6.5 billion annually to South Carolina’s economy.

The legislation requires residents to recycle desktop, laptop, and notebook computers as well as computer monitors, printers, and televisions. The legislation specifically says that residents “may not knowingly place or discard” any of those electronics “in any waste stream that is to be disposed of in a solid waste landfill.”

With the new electronics recycling law and landfill disposal ban taking effect on July 1, it is important to make South Carolinians aware of the many recycling options offered by manufacturers, retailers, and local governments.

First, the new legislation requires computer, printer, and television manufacturers to provide free and convenient recovery (recycling) programs to residents. Many manufacturers already offer take-back programs. Other manufacturers provide collection sites or collection events.

Many retailers that sell electronic equipment also offer recycling options to residents. For information on electronics recycling in South Carolina and for a list of and links to manufacturer and retail take-back programs, residents can visit www.scdhec.gov/e-cycle and click on Information for Residents in the column on the left side of the page or by calling the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control’s Office of Solid Waste Reduction and Recycling at 1.800.768.7348.

In addition to the recovery programs offered by manufacturers and retailers, most South Carolina counties -- and some municipalities -- provide additional recycling options for residents. Some have established permanent collection sites while others sponsor periodic collection events.

In fact, currently 37 counties offer electronics recycling programs. Twenty-one counties collect at drop-off sites, 11 counties collect at a central location, and 15 counties offer collection events (with some counties offering multiple options). Kershaw County collects e-scrap at 10 recycling drop-off sites and also offers periodic collection events. For more information, call 803.425.1507.

In short, a wide variety of recycling options are available now – with more to come.

To help promote electronics recycling, April 30, 2011, has been proclaimed “South Carolina E-cycles Day”.

In association with the proclamation, three collection events will be held – including one in the upstate, one in the low country, and one in the Midlands at the S.C. State Farmers Market in West Columbia. For more information visit www.ecycleSC.com. These events are being sponsored by Waste Management, LG Electronics, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental of Control (DHEC), and other local partners.

Locally, a separately organized recycling event is scheduled on Saturday, April 30 at the Camden Goodwill Store in Springdale Plaza from 8 am to 2 pm. The event is sponsored by Goodwill, the County of Kershaw, and the City of Camden. Previous collection events held at the County Government Center sponsored by the County of Kershaw, the City of Camden, and DHEC have been successful, and more are being planned.

In fiscal year 2010 (July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2010) South Carolinians recycled 3,977 tons of electronics. This was more than double what was recycled the previous year. With the new legislation, this number will dramatically increase.

By giving old electronics new life through recycling, residents will be creating a cleaner environment, a better economy, and jobs for South Carolina. This is a winning strategy for our state.