The electronic waste (e-waste) recycling and reuse program run by the Ecology Center is a unique and innovative community-based program that allows residents to dispose of unwanted or broken electronics in an environmentally responsible way. We started the recycling program in 2003 and expanded it to include reuse in 2012. We offer free collection of electronics at seasonal events (check our calendar for the most up to date schedule) as well as free drop-off services year-round at the Gowanus E-waste Warehouse. You can bring us all types of consumer electronics from computers and TVs to cables, cords, and cell phones. For a full list of acceptable items (and what we do not accept) please see our FAQ section.
According to the E.P.A., electronic waste contributes 70% of the toxins found in landfills, while only contributing 1% of the volume of materials in landfills. Electronic waste contains many toxic materials including lead, mercury, cadmium, phosphors and flame-retardants. Recycling your electronics waste decreases energy and water use, reduces pollution, and keeps hazardous chemicals out of our air and water. Reusing unwanted electronics offers even bigger environmental benefits along with social benefits: creating local jobs and making technology accessible to people who might not be able to afford to purchse new computers.
Reuse (and Recycling)
A New York State Law (passed in 2010) requires that manufacturers begin offering free electronic recycling opportunities and many manufacturers are offering these opportunities by partnering with recyclers and community-based organizations, such as the Lower East Side Ecology Center. The law makes electronics manufacturers responsible for their product's end of life, giving them an incentive to design electronic equipment that can be easily recycled by reducing the amount of toxic materials used in production. Such a shift to "green" designs will benefit everyone, from workers producing and recycling the equipment, to all the avoided environmental degradation associated with using toxic materials.
New York State's law will make the disposal of electronics in the trash illegal for New York City households by January 1, 2015. As we get closer to this date, the Ecology Center is looking forward to working with stakeholders to develop programs that will make the reuse and recycling of electronics accessible and convenient for all New Yorkers.
For more information about the law, see the Electronics Equipment Recycling and Reuse Act.