Salvaging The Future

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Technology > Los Alamos man’s business takes care of town’s e-waste

By Tris DeRoma

Some might at first think of Brian Kelley as a modern-day Sanford and Son, turning one man’s electronics trash into another’s treasure.

As computers, Smartphones and other trappings of the 21st century permeate virtually every aspect of life; an issue arises in terms of how best to dispose of outdated devices.

The one place they shouldn’t be is in a dumpster or trash can. In many cases, these machines that in proportion can contain as much metal, plastic and toxic materials as a subcompact car, disposing of a computer properly can be a pretty involved task.

Unless, of course, you live or work in Los Alamos. In that case, all you have to do is call “Azazo Recycling” at 500-0569 and they will drop by free of charge whether you’re resident or business, pick up your old machine and dispose of it properly. Or, you can drop by the business at 3540 Orange Avenue, Room LV-1.

Azazo creator and owner Brian Kelley knows a lot about computers and other electronica, as well as the harm they can do to the environment when they are just tossed in the trash. He sees his business as a kind of salvage yard of the future. That’s the reason he started Azazo Recycling, to make sure as much of Los Alamos’ “e-waste” comes his way instead of the landfill.

“I do a lot of work with computers, and I’d see them left out by dumpsters, and after awhile it just began to irritate me,” he said. “People were just dumping them, which adds to the pollution. Plastic stays around a long time.” And then he says there are the monitors, which depending on what type it is, can contain mercury, lead and a host of other toxic substances.

He said the word “Azazo” doesn’t mean anything, it’s just a word that repeats the beginning and end of the alphabet and includes an “o” to remind people of the repetitive and cyclical concept of recycling. His business officially opened in June of this year, and he already has an impressive list of clients, including the Los Alamos Public School District, from whom he also rents the space for his business.

He’s had a lot of help from the community, even though the road to getting all his permits in order has been tough.

He first started out at the small business center, located on the campus of the University of New Mexico at Los Alamos, and then it was just a matter of meeting with the necessary county agencies to get permits.

The toughest part he said was obtaining permits from the state to recycle the computers, given that computers as well as their components contain toxic materials.

According to Kelley, the majority of the electronics he takes in are salvageable. Very little ends up going to the recycling plant. “Circuit boards, everything gets broken down into pieces,” he said. “From me, it goes to bigger recyclers and smelters,” he said. And of course, some parts are able to be reused again. He estimates that since his official opening mid-June, he estimates the business has handled thousands of pounds of equipment.

“So far, we’ve processed about one ton and 900 pounds of waste. That’s how much has been processed and recycled,” Kelley said.

Kelley’s hours are: Monday through Wednesday, 7:50 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Thursday, 7:50 a.m. to 4:50 p.m. Friday through Sunday. Kelley can be reached by email at general@azazorecycling.com. He takes more than computers; he also accepts most electrical appliances such as microwave ovens and he also takes cell phones. For a complete list, see azazorecycling.com.