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Have a junk drawer full of old phones? Here's what to do with them

As much as 50 million tons of electronic waste is create each year, often ending up in landfills.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - It's the ugly side of living in a digital age. 

As much was 50 million tons of electronic waste is created each year. 

Many Americans can't wait to get their hands on the latest iPhone, flat screen or tablet. But, too often the old devices wind up in landfills. 

13 ON YOUR SIDE's Angela Cunningham took a trip to the Kent County Recycling and Education Center to look at its efforts to cut back on the electronic waste in the county.

Kyle Shoemaker, the site supervisor at the center, says they work closely with Valley City Electronics Recycling, located in Kentwood.

"Valley City is a local e-waste processor who disassembles the electronics and recycles the components," he says.

Most electronics contain valuable materials that can be used, such as copper, silver and gold. Some electronics even contain materials that are hazardous, like lead and mercury, and need to be kept out of landfills.

Dave Perry, general manager of Valley City Electronics Recycling says they can accept all kinds of computer systems and accessories, phones, game systems, radios, medical, telecom, office, audio and video equipment that you may have.

"Computer equipment contains a lot of we can recover, like the steel, copper and aluminum. All of types of metals can be recovered and reused," says Perry. "Plus, any time one of these devices end up in a landfill we are polluting the environment."

Electronic waste can be dropped off at three Kent County facilities as well as other locations throughout West Michigan.

Here's a list of places, provided by the Kent County Department of Public Works, that details where to take electronics you no longer want. 

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