As we accumulate more gadgets, the amount of electronic debris entering our waste stream is soaring in volume. This changed on January 1st. New York State residents can no longer throw their devices and gadgets into the trash.

U.S. consumers throw away 400 million units of electronic equipment per year, the state Department of Environmental Conservation reports. What’s the solution? Recycling e-waste– in order to protect human health and the environment.

Recycling diverts thousands of pounds of waste from landfills and incinerators, says the DEC. It keeps toxins such as lead, mercury and cadmium from “contaminating the air, water and soil.” And it conserves natural resources “by allowing valuable materials to be reclaimed and reused, rather than using virgin materials.”

Starting January 1st, 2015, state law will prohibit consumer disposal of electronic equipment in landfills or waste-to-energy facilities.

What sort of gadgets are covered by the new law?

Computers (including laptops, desktops, tablets and e-readers)
Cathode ray tubes
Small scale servers
Computer peripherals (including any permanently attached cables, cords, or wiring)
Electronic keyboards
Electronic mice or similar pointing devices
Fax machines, document scanners, and printers (only those intended for use with a computer and weighing less than 100 lbs.)
Small electronic equipment (including any permanently attached cables, cords, or wiring)
Digital video recorders
Portable digital music players
DVD players (including projectors with DVD player capabilities intended for home-use)
Digital converter boxes
Cable or satellite receivers (including digital media receivers)
Electronic or video game consoles (including both handheld devices and those intended for use with a video display device)

That’s a lot of items that can’t get dumped in the trash anymore! Where can we take them?

Electronics manufacturers must provide free and convenient e-waste collection to most NYS consumers, says the state. Manufacturers can offer a “variety of collection methods” under the new law. This includes drop-off locations, recycling events and mail back programs. Check the state DEC website to find out how you can locate and use a manufacturer’s Take Back Program.

The state also maintains a list of electronic waste collection sites. The state cautions consumers to call ahead and doublecheck that their items will be accepted.

New York City residents can drop off electronics at Goodwill, Salvation Army, Best Buy, Staples (no TVs), or the Lower East Side Ecology Center.

And NYC apartment buildings can participate in e-cycleNYC, which provides buildings with free pick up and recycling of unwanted electronics.