Throw away those old batteries, busted telephones and broken stereo equipment,
and you'll be breaking a new law.
Effective Thursday, it will be illegal to toss household electronic waste into
trash bound for California landfills.
It may seem like one little AA battery to you, but those add up, said Jackie
Sillman, recycling coordinator for Yuba-Sutter Disposal Inc.
"A lot of people think it's just a little battery, but you have to consider the
bigger picture," she said.
Californians use more than 500 million batteries a year. They safely dispose of
less than 1 percent, according to a 2001 report by the California Integrated
Waste Management Board.
Many electronic goods contain low levels of hazardous metals such as lead,
mercury and chromium. These and other metals in e-waste are toxic. As those
toxins add up, they contaminate soil and water.
Lead, for example, can affect nearly every bodily organ. Low levels raise blood
pressure, weaken the body and fingers, wrists, can cause anemia and host of
other problems. High lead levels can cause brain and kidney damage, miscarriage
and even death, according to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease
Products the state Department of Toxic Substance Control has deemed "universal
waste" will be processed separately. Universal waste is the sort of
toxins-containing products found in nearly every home and office, including
Electronics may be safe when they are intact and well taken care of, but their
toxic components can become exposed after they are tossed into the garbage
"Once it gets here, it is messed up and broken, so it is much harder to
recycle. Breakage is like spilling oil," said Maggie Johnson, YSDI compliance
This can a huge problem for a disposal company and the community it serves.
YSDI accepts about 20,000 pounds of e-waste per week, Johnson said. Last year,
it processed 330 tons of e-waste.
"Our equipment emphasizes compaction. That's why we can't have these things in
the trash," Johnson said.
In order to contain e-waste, Yuba-Sutter residents will have to take advantage
of YSDI's electronic waste recycle service.
People can take e-waste to the YSDI Transfer Station. There is no additional
charge for e-waste. Charges will be based on weight if other trash is dropped
off at the same time. Sillman said customers should not take electronic waste
to the Household Hazardous Waste Facility until the facility is modified to
Customers can, however, take batteries, fluorescent and high intensity
discharge lights to the Household Hazardous Waste Facility. Schools and
businesses should make an appointment before bringing their material to the
facility, Sillman said.
Johnson said she is concerned the sudden change will surprise people. But YSDI
has been preparing for years. Four years ago, homes and small businesses were
granted an extension on mandatory participation in the recycling program until
Johnson said YSDI simply will not pickup cans with electronic waste in them.
"If your trash isn't picked up, be patient, call in and we'll work with you,"
In addition to complying with the law, Sillman said, people need to be good
stewards of the land today and not expect future generations to deal with
problems that result from e-waste.
"If we don't do it, who will?" she said.
Johnson figures people want to do right by the environment.
"They just have to figure out what 'right' is," Johnson said.
Where to Go:
- The YSDI Transfer Station is located at 3001 N. Levee Rd., Marysville. It is
open from 7:30am to 4:30pm every day.
- The Household Hazardous Waste Facility is located at 134 Burns Dr., Yuba
City. It is open Saturdays from 8am to 4pm
- For more information, call YSDI at 743-6933.
- Appeal-Democrat reporter Eve Hightower can be reached at 749-4724. You may
e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.