If you have any old electronics equipment lying around, buried in your basement, closets or garages, now until February 2nd is the time to get rid of it the proper way. Why? Rochester Computer Recycling and Recovery (RCR&R – www.ewaste.com), a Victor, NY electronics recycler, is having their annual Free Household Electronics Recycling Program one again. You can bring in your old computers, monitors, printers, scanners, and any other household computer accessories, peripherals and consumer electronics devices for free to any of their 15 Rochester drop-off locations. TVs are also accepted, but require a $10 recycling fee and can only be dropped off at RCR&R’s downtown or Victor facilities. They do not currently accept kitchen or personal appliances such as toasters and hair dryers.
“Since residents don’t fall under the same strict environmental regulations – and steep fines for violations – that businesses are, we offer these free, annual drop-off recycling programs to local residents to help encourage people to do the right thing,” says Charlie McKernan, Director of Client Services for RCR&R. “There’s so much hazardous waste in old electronics, including up to eight pounds of lead in a single CRT monitor, which most people are just storing in their basement or putting at the curb when they acquire a new LCD flat screen display. Other hazardous waste contained in old electronics include: mercury, cadmium and beryllium. Having free recycling events helps us create awareness within the community that there is a local company that will take in all of their electronic equipment, and during our annual program, they can drop it all off for free.”
To make it convenient for residents to turn in their obsolete electronics for recycling, RCR&R has set up a local network of drop-off locations, mostly local computer shops, who’ll take in your equipment, which will be sent to the RCR&R recycling facility in Victor. These locations span across the area from Batavia to Canandaigua. “We happily joined the eWaste Alliance to become a drop-off location for old equipment because we wanted to help their cause and do our part to help keep these items out of landfills,” stated Lynne Willey, of Jeff’s Computer Service in Webster. “It’s so essential to keep old electronics out of landfills and harming our environment, so we at Microworx welcomed the opportunity to be a drop-off location for residents to bring in their old equipment for recycling,” added Kay Leist, owner of Microworx in Brighton.
After February 2nd, all drop-off locations will continue to accept old equipment from local residents for a nominal fee. Most items will require just a $5 or $10 recycling fee, and again, TVs are accepted at just the Victor and Downtown RCR&R locations. It’s well worth the few bucks to know you’re not polluting the environment, and your equipment is being recycled by its components being melted down and reused.
So now that you’ve dropped off your equipment, wonder what happens next? A recycler literally has to disassemble the computer and separate all the parts according to what hazardous materials they contain. See the accompanying photo that shows the bins that RCR&R uses to sort the various parts to the computers they take in. Such bins contain just circuit boards, hard drives, plastics, floppy drives, and even a huge bin of batteries from electronics (see photo). After components are disassembled and sorted, bulk bins are then packaged and shipped off to smelters and other facilities that will recycle the materials.
Hard drives less than 20GB are simply destroyed, and for a small fee you can request that your hard drive be shredded – literally! Due to the growing needs of businesses to secure their data, businesses and residents can have their drives crushed to smithereens with RCR&R’s hard drive shredder. Seeing the shredder in action is a fantastic site as it demolishes a hard drive with ease in just a couple seconds. I curled my knuckles to hide my fingertips watching as hard drives got demolished, visualizing having my fingers get sucked in! Check out the accompanying photos of what hundreds of shredded hard drives look like that I took on my tour of their facility. There’s no way anyone would ever be able to get that data now! Talk about having peace of mind!
RCR&R has been in the electronics recycling business since 1985. The company outgrew their original facility downtown at 395 Central Avenue, which it still uses as a used computer retail center. The company’s processing center at 7318 Victor-Mendon Rd. is the largest dedicated state-of-the-art electronic recycling facility in the state, taking in a minimum of 2 tractor trailer loads of old equipment every day. The majority of what RCR&R does is assist companies big and small with their equipment recycling and data security services nationwide. Since companies are under strict regulation for the disposal of electronics and are subject to big penalties, they are required to hire a recycling company to pick-up and dispose of their end-of-life equipment in an environmentally sound manner.
With the digital TV switch in February 2009, McKernan expects to receive huge amounts of old televisions for recycling from those households who upgrade and want to get rid of their old TVs. “We expect a tsunami of televisions to come in as a result of the 2009 deadline for broadcasters to switch over to a digital signal,” McKernan suggests. “We hope that residents will properly dispose of their old TVs when the time comes, because the result of mass trashing of old TVs will be truly harmful to the environment.”
I think we all have old computer gear, inkjet printers, walkmans, radios, and other techie stuff sitting in our basement. Take advantage of the free drop-off until February 2nd, and get rid of it all! If we all do this, we won’t be tempted to toss it out with our trash and think our measly outdated Pentium isn’t going to matter one bit to the environment. And tell others about this event because everyone has old equipment they don’t know what to do with sitting at home. Together, we can all do our part (and also free up some needed storage space at home!).