Trash talk: Recycling e-waste

Although electronic waste items — including discarded televisions, cellphones and batteries — make up a relatively small portion of recyclables in the Cayman Islands, they are among the most important to dispose of properly.

“Electronic waste — or e-waste — is pretty much everything that is battery powered or has an electrical cord,” said Martin Edelenbos, Dart’s solid waste management engineering coordinator.

“These days, batteries are especially dangerous and have been blamed for a significant increase in fire incidents at waste management facilities.”

If not recycled or processed properly, electronic waste can cause environmental pollution and landfill fires. Many electronic scrap components include potentially harmful materials such as lead and can ignite when compacted.

Under the planned integrated solid waste management system, businesses and the public will be required to keep electronic waste out of the regular mixed waste stream destined for the energy recovery facility.

“Even when the new facilities are up and running, separating out e-waste will be important,” Edelenbos said. “Batteries and other components of e-waste can negatively impact on the quality of both bottom and fly ash and, more significantly, pose a fire risk in the receiving bunker at the energy recovery facility.”

Batteries and other e-waste items received at the new facilities will be packaged as required by remanufacturing or recycling markets and shipped overseas for recycling.

“Recycling e-waste allows for hazardous or toxic components to be processed safely and the valuable or useful components to be recovered and used to produce new electronics,” Edelenbos said.
Here’s how to safely dispose of some of the most common types of electronic waste in Cayman:

  • Small, household batteries can be deposited in cylindrical, blue-topped bins located at most public schools, libraries, supermarkets, government offices and some private stores.
  • Lead-acid batteries can be taken to the George Town Landfill, garages or any retailer that sells lead-acid batteries.
  • Lithium and other large batteries should also be taken to the George Town Landfill for proper disposal.
  • Household electronics such as computers, cellphones, televisions and appliances should be taken to the George Town Landfill.

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This article appears in print in the March 2021 edition of Camana Bay Times, written by Hannah Reid.

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