This one may come as a shock to you because we don’t tend to think of things we use regularly (like our cell phones, iPods, and computers) as having the possibility to be considered hazardous. These types of wastes, identified by the somewhat new term E-wastes, include a bevy of items falling under the umbrella of out dated and out of use electronics.

What might I have?

So what exactly are e-wastes? According to the California Department of Toxic Substances Control, “’E-waste’ refers to any unwanted electronic device or Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) and is classified as universal waste. E-waste frequently contains hazardous materials, predominantly lead and mercury, and is produced by households, businesses, governments, and industries.” That said, anything from old stereos and boom boxes to outdated cellphones or computers can fall into this category.

What does this mean for me?

Does this mean that the longer you keep your computer the greater the chance is of it spontaneously going up in flames? Not at all. It simply means that when the time comes to dispose of your old computer you need to be sure to do it in the proper manner.

According to the Marion County ToxDrop Committee, “everything from cell phones to computers needs to be recycled rather than thrown away. Electronics contain hazardous materials such as lead and mercury. These materials, if buried in a landfill, can contaminate groundwater and cause serious health issues for humans.”

How can I dispose of my e-wastes?

Electronics can be broken down and separated into plastic and aluminum to be reused. The City of Indianapolis has a program called ToxDrop for all city citizens where you can drop off your electronics and household hazardous waste to be recycled and/or disposed of properly. Most other cities have similar programs. It just takes a quick Google search to find out about one near you!