Heads up Beaufort: New e-cycling law takes effect July 1 (update: refresher)

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Updated July 6: Just a reminder that the new e-cycling laws took effect July 1.

For a refresher on what that means, you can check out the post below or head on over to the Beaufort County web page that outlines the new rules.

Check that out here.

Reported May 29: Beginning July 1, all South Carolina residents (yes even those of us in Beaufort County) are required by law to recycle electronics including desktop, laptop, notebook, and tablet computers, computer monitors, printers, and televisions.

But as you may know Beaufort County currently has no system in place to accept these items at their recycling centers, so where can you recycle these electronics?

Beaufort County plans to continue to organize and manage E-waste collection through collection events, in order to ensure that proper security measures are taken with regard to residents’ privacy. No events are scheduled at this time, but once dates are determined, they will be posted on the Beaufort County website.

Why the new law?

While currently “e-waste” makes up only a small percentage of total waste, the amount of electronics thrown away continues to increase.

Because many of these items contain toxic materials, it could pose an increased health risk, as well environmental issues. Simply put, the benefits of this legislation are three-fold:

- First, it protects the environment by keeping toxic materials contained in these electronics – like lead, cadmium, and mercury – out of landfills.
- Second, by recycling these electronics, materials recovered can be used to create new products, thus conserving natural resources. The precious metals, glass, and plastic can be reused to create circuit boards and more, and glass and plastic can go towards televisions and computer monitors.
- Third, this recycling program can potentially create jobs and businesses.

Get more background on the new law over here.

Local officials said the best thing to do in the near to is to utilize the services of several area retailers that will accept them, including Best Buy, Radio Shack, and Staples. For more information on where to take your electronics, visit the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) E-cycle website.

Be sure to review retailers’ guidelines prior to taking electronics to their stores, as each company’s policy is different. Some are free programs, while others charge a small fee.

Additionally, all manufacturers of the aforementioned electronics are required to provide some sort of recycling program effective July 1. This could be in the form of mail-back programs, collections sites, or collection events, and will either have no cost or some sort of incentive with a value greater than the cost of the recycling fee.

The law requires computer manufacturers to make the e-cycling process as convenient to the consumer as purchasing the computer was. Visit your electronics manufacturers’ website for details of their recycling programs.

If the electronics are in good working order – and are not obsolete – consider donating them to a local non-profit or other organization. For instance, Palmetto Goodwill will accept working computers and televisions, and that donation can lead to job training for someone in need. Each organization has differing needs, so be sure to call first before bringing items to donate.

What happens to the electronics? Once they are recycled, computers are frequently shredded and then the plastics, aluminum, steel, and circuit boards will be sorted. They’re then sent on to a variety of manufacturers that will use the materials to create new products. Televisions are usually disassembled, separating plastic, metal, and glass from the cathode ray tube. Then all of these items are recycled to make new products.

Landfill operators and attendants will be relied upon to enforce this law, and if residents dump e-waste after being informed not to, it can be considered illegal dumping. Conviction of illegal dumping carries a $465 fine and possible jail time.

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