Lights and festive décor still adorn houses, opened presents still have their "new gift" tags, small, discarded wrappings are in the trash, and hosts of bloated trash cans line the alley ways: the holidays are almost gone. But if any of those trashcans contains electronics, law enforcement officials might soon show up.
With the popularity of high-tech gifts, concerns about pollution and the growing amount of American waste all at a high, legislation around the country is mandating that consumers recycle rather than dump certain electronics.
Dubbed e-waste, electronics in landfills can leak toxins, including arsenic and lead, which eventually leach into the soil and water supply. Some estimates say that nearly 70 percent of used computers and monitors in the United States will end up in landfills. Not only does this pollute, but it also means that precious metals like gold and silver are not recovered. As reporter Chris Carroll describes in his article High-Tech Trash, recycling gold from computers "is far more efficient and less environmentally destructive than ripping it from the earth."