E-waste recycling isn’t cheap, but sometimes it’s free
On a recent Saturday morning, Tersh Fitch was one of about 115 volunteers directing cars loaded with old electronics bound for free recycling. It was his fourth time volunteering at one of New2U Computer’s Community E-Waste Recycling events.
“It’s just one of these things you do to help the environment so people don’t dump this in the desert,” he said.
An average of six cars per minute moved through the steady line at the site of the former Park Lane Mall on Make a Difference Day, Oct. 23. By the end of the day, over 100,000 pounds of computers, televisions, cables, cell phones, printers, DVD players and other electronics were collected. While e-waste collection takes place year-round, often for a cost, recycling was free at this event, except for $10-$15 charged for TVs.
What can be reused will be refurbished by New2U and helps support Disability Resources, which provides free computers to local people with disabilities. What can’t be reused will be recycled locally by Sims Recycling Solutions.
“There is still such a need for recycling TVs,” said New2U Computers program manager Robin Krueger. “We could load up containers and ship them to China and get paid for it, but we’ve decided to do it properly.”
What’s improper about sending it to China? Krueger said there are data security issues with shipping e-waste internationally, compared with sending it to Sims, which guarantees secure data destruction. Further, a United Nations report released this spring noted that much of the developing world’s waste is sent to China, where backyard recyclers have been known to incinerate it—releasing toxins into the environment.
And e-waste is on the rise. As an example of the quick turnaround of electronics, Sims recycled its first Apple iPad this month—a gadget that first hit stores in April. In fact, e-waste is piling up so fast that Krueger said many electronics companies are simply storing it until they can figure out what to do with it.
Nationally, only 18 percent of televisions and computers are recycled, with the rest sent to landfills, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. And in 2008, the United States generated 3.16 million tons of e-waste, with only 13.6 percent of it recycled. Much of what is left in the landfills is toxic. Computers, for example, contain lead, cadmium, mercury and other hazardous wastes—and Americans throw away 14-20 million of them each year. And while e-waste only represents about 2 percent of municipal waste, the EPA says it is the fastest growing category of waste.
Though e-waste recycling events tend to be cheaper, residents don’t have to wait for one to recycle electronics. Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful’s “Truckee Meadows Recycling Guide” lists Best Buy and CVS locations as places to take old cellphones. New2U Computers, Computer Corps and Global Investment Recovery can take old computers. For televisions, recycle them at Global Investment Recovery, Clean Harbors Environmental and Waste Management. Staples and A-American Self Storage recently started taking e-waste, as well. Find more details and the guide at www.ktmb.org, or call the Nevada Recycling Hotline at 1-800-597-5865.