The average computer user replaces their computer every two to three years. New television technology is tolling the bell on millions of TV sets across the country, as viewers upgrade to sets capable of displaying high-definition signals. And millions of VCRs are being replaced these days will recordable DVD machines and digital video recorders. So, where do all these devices end up? Hopes at the Delaware Delaware Solid Waste Authority (DSWA) are that they won't end up in the local landfill.

Coastal Point • Jesse Pryor

The Omar Collection Station at 33086 Burton Farm Road, near Frankford.

Most of these electronic devices contain amounts of lead, silver, barium, cadmium and mercury, with the poster-child for the problem being the cathode ray tubes in older televisions and computer monitors, which contain lead. Many of these hazardous metals can be recovered and recycled by the de-manufacturing and recycling of electronic devices. But they can also make their way into the groundwater system when discarded devices end up in the landfill. So, keeping the water supply safe and protecting the planet means finding other ways of disposing of old TVs, computers and the like.

That has led DSWA to expand existing electronic goods recycling drop-off locations throughout the state, most recently with six new containers in Sussex and Kent counties. Locally, electronics owners can now drop off their old devices at the Omar Collection Station, at 33086 Burton Farm Road, near Frankford. The other new drop-off locations for electronics are at the Sheraton Hotel in Dover, Bowers Beach, Del-Tech's Owens Campus in Georgetown, and Longneck and Bridgeville Collection Stations.

Existing locations with electronics recycling drop-off containers include the Jones Crossroads Landfill, 28560 Landfill Lane, Jones Crossroads/Route 20, Georgetown; Town of Lewes, 1 American Legion Road, Savannah Road and American Legion Road, Lewes; and Long Neck Collection Station, 28963 Mount Joy Road in Oak Orchard, near Millsboro. Each electronics recycling container is an addition to an already existing Recycling Drop-off Center.

The six new containers are just six of the planned 15 that DSWA plans to put in place throughout Delaware.

The DSWA estimates that, since the inception of the DSWA Electronic Goods Recycling Program, there have been almost 15 million pounds of electronic material kept out of the landfills by virtue of these drop-off locations and the main facility in New Castle. That means not only an environmental benefit for the area surrounding the landfills but savings of precious landfill space as well, since DSWA says electronic waste is now the fastest growing portion of the state's waste stream.

The DSWA's Electronic Goods Recycling program allows state residents to conveniently drop off their unwanted electronic items for free at the above locations, as well as DSWA-hosted events to collect household hazardous waste. The program is designed to accept electronic goods, telecommunications equipment, toys, radios, televisions, and electro-acoustic equipment, such as calculators, computers and their parts, keyboards, printers, cables, phones, fax machines, answering machines and VCR's. Even the decades' old TVs residents might find in their parents' or grandparents' homes can all be recycled now.

For those with more than a handful of devices to recycle, schools, non-profits and public agencies can drop off their old electronics for free at the Delaware Recycling Center (DRC) at 1101 Lambsons Lane, New Castle (off Route 9 North), while businesses need to call the Citizens' Response Line at 1-800-404-7080 to schedule a drop-off appointment at the DRC and will have to pay a fee for the recycling service. Business recycling costs 15 cents per pound, with a $10 minimum fee per drop-off, and businesses will be invoiced for their fees, while all others can recycle free of charge.

As part of the program to control electronic waste, DSWA also encourages consumers to consider the future disposal of their electronics when making a purchase they may not truly need, as well as to look for ways to find new uses and new homes for electronics they may otherwise simply discard.

So, what happens to these items when they're recycled through the electronic goods recycling program? DSWA works with contractors Computers Donation Management Inc. (CDM) from Baltimore, Md., and Opportunity Center Inc. (OCI) from Wilmington, to ensure that all material that is handled through the program is recycled responsibly within the U.S. OCI even employs disabled workers and other Delawareans in its operations.

That pile of dead electronics in your shed or garage? It now has a new home — in the recycling pods at many of the state's recycling drop-off locations. That TV you were going to leave at the curb? Run it by the landfill, but don't dump it there — send it off to be recycled for a better life and a healthier planet.

For more information on this or any other DSWA program, call the Citizens' Response Line at 1-800-404-7080 or visit online.