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Recycle and reboot

Disposing of electronic waste

by Kim Grant



Ever wonder where your old laptop wound up — in a landfill or at a recycling center? According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Americans throw out 2 million tons of electronic waste each year.


Locally, businesses, nonprofits, counties and cities have recycling programs in place to accommodate the growing demand. And the recycling statistics are quite impressive.


In Orange County, 346.4 tons of electronics were recycled between July 2006 and June 2007. As of May, the county had recycled 357.7 tons of electronic waste.


“It is my understanding that we have one of the highest per-capita recycling rates for electronics in the nation, if not the highest,” says Robert Taylor, recycling programs manager with the Orange County Department of Solid Waste Management.


A range of electronic equipment can be recycled, including televisions, printers, personal computers, laptops, fax machines, scanners, cell phones, DVD players and VCR players. In many cases, old electronic equipment can be reused or refurbished and contributed to charitable organizations and low-income families.


Several electronics equipment manufacturers also offer recycling programs for a small fee, while local retailers such as Best Buy, Office Depot, OfficeMax, PetSmart, Staples and Whole Foods accept donated cell phones and other electronics.


Before recycling your old cell phone or laptop, remember to have the data removed. Companies such as LC Industries in Durham can remove data for a fee. Also, before loading up old electronics, call the nearest recycling center to confirm hours and the items they accept.


And thank you for recycling. 


Kim Grant is a freelance writer based in Raleigh.

Drop-off locations


Chatham County Waste Management Facility
720 County Landfill Road
Phone: (919) 542-5516
Web site:


Durham County Swap Shop
Redwood Convenience Center, Redwood Road and Exume Road, Durham 
Phone: (919) 560-4186
Web site:


LC Industries
4500 Emperor Blvd., Durham
Phone: (919) 596-8277
Web site:


Orange County Landfill
1514 Eubanks Road, Chapel Hill
Phone: (919) 968-2788 
Web site: