California Computer Junk Reaches Milestone

By Chris Roberts
|  Tuesday, Jun 7, 2011  |  Updated 1:45 PM PDT
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California Computer Junk Reaches Milestone

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That's a lot of monitors. And keyboards, television sets, cell phones, laptops, printers and other high-toxicity, low-reuse value e-junk.

And you're paying for it, California.

In its sixth year in operation, the state's electronic-waste recycling program recently collected its billionth -- with a "B" -- pound of unwanted, obsolete or otherwise discarded technology, the San Jose Mercury News reported.

California was the first state in the union to pass an e-waste recycling law, perhaps logical seeing as how the nation's technology industry was birthed in Silicon Valley. But California is now lagging behind other states in the e-waste program, the newspaper reported -- this is the only state in which consumers are charged a recycling fee up front when they purchase monitors and other electronics that will eventually become junk. In other states, that fee is paid by the industry and manufacturers, not the consumers.

On top of that, some devices like VCRs, hard drives and printers are collected by the program but not recycled in-state. Such junk is often shipped overseas to low-quality garbage dumps or other storage sites in developing nations, where the heavy metals -- such as mercury, lead and cadmium -- leeches into groundwater and infects children.

The law requires consumers to pay a fee of $6 to $10, depending on the size of the screen, when they buy a new TV, laptop or computer monitor, the newspaper reported. That cash pays for the state-run program that shells out 39 cents per pound of e-junk to 52 recycling companies and 590 collection organizations, which range from private companies to charitable groups such as Goodwill Industries and the Salvation Army, the newspaper reported.
 

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