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Recycling old electronics during spring cleaning gives gadgets new life

Published by Central Office April 11, 2017

Contact(s): Sarah Murray, 608-264-6001

State residents have recycled nearly 250 million pounds of electronics since 2010

MADISON - Now that spring is finally arriving across Wisconsin, many people are emptying basements, cleaning out closets and finding new homes for clutter that accumulated over the winter. For many state residents, that includes unused electronics like computers, cell phones or TVs.


While it may be tempting to toss old cell phones in the trash or haul an outdated TV to the curb, state law bans most electronics from Wisconsin's landfills and incinerators. Instead, residents can use E-Cycle Wisconsin to recycle electronics at nearly 400 locations around the state.

 "We've seen a great response to the program, with many state residents taking advantage of convenient drop-off sites to properly recycle old electronics," said Sarah Murray, E-Cycle Wisconsin coordinator for the Department of Natural Resources. "But our surveys have shown that many people still aren't sure where to recycle their electronics. In fact, many people tell us they are storing old electronics instead of passing them on or recycling them."

A 2016 DNR survey estimated that Wisconsin households had 4.2 million unused cell phones, 2.1 million unused computers and 1.7 million unused TVs. The most common reason people cited for not recycling their old electronics was not knowing where or how to do so.

 Many items are accepted at collection sites for no charge, though current market conditions have caused collectors to charge for some items that are more difficult to recycle, especially TVs and monitors that contain lead or mercury. Responsible recycling is still the best option to recover valuable metals, conserve landfill space, and prevent harm to the environment.

Since E-Cycle Wisconsin began in 2010, registered collectors have received nearly 250 million pounds of electronics for recycling. Nearly all electronics collected under the program are processed in Wisconsin and other Midwest states, creating jobs and keeping harmful components like lead and mercury out of the environment.

"The steel, aluminum, plastic and precious metals inside electronics are commodities that have real economic value if properly recycled," Murray said. "They do nothing for us in landfills."

The DNR maintains an up-to-date list of collection sites registered with E-Cycle Wisconsin. Residents can find permanent drop-off sites and upcoming special collection events in their county by searching the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for "E-cycle."

Last Revised: Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Contact information

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