Eco Station to take e-waste more frequently

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By Jennifer Garcia

Getting rid of old electronics in a safe, responsible manner just got easier. The first monthly Electronic Waste and TV Recycling Event will be held at the Los Alamos County Eco Station Saturday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Staff from Albuquerque Recycling Inc. will be on hand, along with staff from the environmental services department and local Boy Scout volunteers, who will all work to collect and pack trucks with recycled materials.

Previously, the county held annual e-recycling events at Sullivan Field, but in an effort to capture more electronics for recycling, Environmental Services Manager Regina Wheeler and her staff decided to hold monthly events at the Eco Station.

Because of the large volume of recycled materials that would be collected at the annual event, lines for dropping off recyclable materials were often long.

“Holding monthly events is much more convenient for them. We used to get 20 tons of materials at the annual events,” Wheeler said.

Albuquerque Recycling is a family owned business that collects e-waste and e-scrap. Gary and Janet Estepp, along with their son Mullen, collect and sell the materials.

“We take all kinds of electronic scraps, computers, printers, copiers, fax machines, cell phones and TVs,” Janet Estepp said.

This is the first time that Albuquerque Recycling will be collecting e-waste. Natural Evolutions, an Oklahoma-based company was previously collecting e-waste during Los Alamos County’s annual recycling event.

 “We used Natural Evolutions for about three or four years,” Wheeler said. “Natural Evolutions was great, but we switched (to Albuquerque Recycling) because they’re a local company and they made themselves available for ongoing collections.”

Wheeler said she’s excited to be working with a local company, not just because they’re from New Mexico, but also because jobs are created for locals.

“They’re creating jobs with this recycling, so that’s a great thing. Typically, recycling creates three times as many jobs as disposal does,” she commented. In fact, recycling is a $236 billion a year industry for the United States. There are more than 56,000 reuse and recycling enterprises nationwide that employ 1.1 million people.

The recycling process is a detailed one. Once the materials have been collected, computers are broken down and the components are removed and then everything is separated by “species” Estepp said.

Those worried about recycling computers because of personal information stored on hard drives can rest a little easier. Estepp’s business also has the capability to do certificates of destruction on hard drives so that they are wiped clean and drilled and won’t fall into the wrong hands.

The plastic from old electronics is sold to a local plastic recycler, while CRT monitors and glass from TVs are separated and sold to a glass recycler in Arizona.

Another perk to working with a local company is that Albuquerque Recycling is registered with the New Mexico Environmental Department.

“They’re beginning to have procedures to help address the issues of unsafe electronics recycling particularly outside of our country,” Wheeler said. “The recycler assures us that the material doesn’t go to unsafe recycling facilities.”

Albuquerque Recycling usually charges $5 per TV set that is recycled, but that won’t be the case on Saturday because the county is going to pick up the cost of dropping off old TVs.

“We want to help people recycle their old TV so they can switch over to HD,” Wheeler said.

The Saturday event is free to everyone who has old electronics that they need to get rid of. Everything from TVs to calculators, computers, monitors, battery back-ups, printers, phones, computer games, stereo components, LCD screens, cords, keyboards and scanners will be taken and recycled. If you can’t make it to the Saturday event, don’t worry.

The Eco Station now accepts e-waste and TVs for recycling on weekdays, as well.

In addition, e-waste will be collected at the Eco Station on the second Saturday of each month.

The Eco Station is located at 3701 East Jemez Road, just past the LANL gates toward White Rock.