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How to properly dispose of electronics to protect the environment and yourself

When not recycled properly, electronics can be detrimental to the environment and your personal information.

WASHINGTON — A lot of people already know it's important to properly recycle electronics, but just how detrimental can electronics be if they do end up in the environment?

“When they’re not disposed of properly, they have toxic heavy metals in them, a lot of them do,” explains Sharon North Section Chief of the Communications and Media Group for Department of Public Works and Environmental Services in Fairfax County. "You don’t want them out in the open where that can leach down into the groundwater and cause contamination.”

Electronics don’t exactly decompose over time.

“They’re going to stay in the environment, they’re going to stay on the ground they’re going to stay in the land for longer than you or I will ever be alive,” said North

Protecting the environment is only one part of the equation. By properly recycling electronics, you’re also protecting yourself. More and more devices contain personal information than ever before. Items like smartwatches, doorbells, thermostats and even refrigerators are all storing our information.

“Everything has to be treated with sensitivity around data and recycling,” says Jeremy Farber, President of Securis.

Credit: KM

After you drop off electronics at recycling stations, their journey has really just begun. Your old electronics then go to a recycling and data destruction company like Securis which has one of their four locations right here in Northern Virginia.

“What Securis likes to do is we like to just shred it,” says Farber. “Just destroy it,  make it small, turn it into tiny little pieces and make it hard for anybody to ever get that. And then recycle all the material.”

In January alone Securis wiped 2,000 hard drives.

"A lot of the parts can be reused and repurposed so that cuts down on the need to get access to raw commodities," explained Farber. "You’re just reusing what’s already there.”

Last year Securis kept eight million pounds of waste out of the environment by properly recycling it.

The WUSA9 team hopes you will join us as we host our  #EnvironmentMatters Recycling Day in D.C., Maryland and Virginia. You can join us from 7 a.m. – 10 a.m., Saturday, Feb. 26 at the following locations:

The Shops at Dakota Crossing

  • Lowe’s Parking Lot - 2438 Market Street NE, Washington, DC 20018

Paint Branch High School

  • 14121 Old Columbia Pike, Burtonsville, MD 20866

Dulles Town Center

  • Old Sears Parking Lot - 21100 Dulles Town Circle, Sterling, VA 20166

You can bring old paint, important documents that need to be shredded and recycled as well as electronics.

If you can’t make it out on Feb. 26, here is more information on how you can properly recycle across the DMV:

MORE: RECYCLING 101: How to recycle

Are you good at recycling? WUSA9's Ariane Datil brings us some new info about how not to recycle.

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