Out with the old

With the Christmas season bringing us new electronic gadgets under the tree to simplify our lives and entertain us, consumers must find a way to make room for the new and dispose of the old. The question remains, how can a consumer responsibly dispose of old and outdated electronic devices without harming the environment?

Jennifer Jones, Green Youngstown coordinator, said that Green Youngstown holds an electronics recycling drive in the spring and in the fall every year at the Covelli Center.

“Our electronics recycling drive is for all electronics, including computer parts, televisions, phones, etc.,” Jones said.

Jones said that recycling drives have an important impact on the environment. In 2012, Green Youngstown collected a record 283,000 pounds of electronics in the two drives they had that year.

Jones said that at Green Youngstown’s recycling drives, the customer drops off the electronic device or devices they want to recycle, and Green Youngstown sorts them. Computer towers are put in one area, computer monitors are all put together in another, TVs are put together in one area, and stereos and CD players are in another. Keyboards and mice are put altogether in an separate area. Vendors then collect these devices and take them to various recycling plants. She said that the TVs might go to a different recycling plant than the computers.

“It depends on what they are set up for at the plant,” Jones said. “These are recycling plants and these items when they are taken to the plant are repackaged. It’s foolish to fill up a landfill with materials when you could reuse them,” Jones said.

Jones said that it’s important to recycle electronics because the chemicals and metals inside of electronics will pollute the groundwater if they are put in landfills. Electronics recycling also saves landfill space and creates jobs.

“It’s very important that people recycle electronics and bring them to our drives because these electronics, such as computers, have heavy metals and chemicals like cadmium and mercury that are harmful for the environment and not good to go into a landfill,” Jones said.

Bob Villers, director of the Geauga-Trumbull Solid Waste Management District in Warren, said that every Wednesday from May to October they have a household hazardous waste and electronics recycling drive. This recycling drive is from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

“At our household hazardous waste and electronics drive, we accept all electronics, including computers, TVs, VCRs and stereos,” Villers said. “In 2013, we collected 196,366 pounds of electronic waste, and a lot of that was recycled. In addition to that, we collected 1,023 television sets.”

Villers said that when the Geauga-Trumbull Solid Waste Management District recycles electronics, 100 percent of the electronic item is recycled. He said this includes copper wiring and aluminum casing.

“Recycling electronics is important because it keeps electronics out of the landfills,” he said.

Bob Smith, president of Howland Recycling Center in Howland Township, said that their facility does not take electronics, but he feels very passionate about the issue of recycling electronics.

“We have to keep electronics out of the landfills,” Smith said. “A lot of minerals and chemicals and different components in a computer can leach out into the groundwater.”

Smith said that manufacturers can help by creating a product that is environmentally safe.

“If we have any doubt or questions about recycling an electronic item, we should contact the manufacturer, because they could tell you how to dispose of it properly,” he said. “Even before you purchase a product, call the manufacturer and if the manufacturer gives you an unsatisfactory answer, do not buy the item.”