Unused electronics and devices are taking up space in the closets, in basements and in junk drawers. Used and non-working electronics and their components could be put to a better use if turned in and recycled.
ReGroup, in cooperation with Total Reclaim Environmental Services, XTO Energy, Kenai Peninsula Borough and Carlile Transportation Systems, will hold an electronics recycling event Saturday at the Central Peninsula Landfill from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Jan Wallace, a spokesperson with ReGroup, said this is the seventh year the event has been held and this year there is no change for household donations of any type.
Businesses and non-profit groups are required to schedule an appointment on Saturday and there is a fee per pound.
Wallace, a retired science teacher, said that the typical home has an average of 20 to 30 electronics.
“If it is not being used, it has valuable resources,” she said.
ReGroup, which started in 1989 with a small group of community volunteers, has grown to more than 50 members whose mission is to educate the public about the importance of recycling.
In 2007, Wallace said the Borough showed interest in recycling and chose ReGroup as the non-profit entity to organize the event.
The event began in the fall of 2007, after Permanent Fund Dividends were distributed, typically a time when residents purchase new electronic items associated with PFD sales.
The first recycling event yielded more than 7,000 pounds of electronics, Wallace said.
At next two events, also held in the fall, donations grew to more than 10,000 pounds each year.
In total, more than 60,000 pounds have been collected at the peninsula event, even with the past device charges.
Wallace said with the lack of a per vehicle or item charge for recycling this year, she is excited to see this year’s recycle totals.
“If it is not being used, it can go into the system so more electronics can be made,” she said.
Carlile is providing the transportation to haul the material to Total Reclaim’s Anchorage site.
“That’s why it is profitable for businesses to turn their things in here because then they don’t have to worry about transportation,” she said. “That’s a good thing.”
She said materials of all the devices, anything with a cord, could be recycled.
“Basically it is packaged, like all computers together, all CPU towers together, and sent to (Total Reclaim’s) business in Washington,” she said.
Once there, the white plastic containers get shipped to one place, ground up and then are made into more plastic containers, the same as with the black plastic covers. The glass is also ground up and repurposed.
“All of the electronics are taken and sent to specific companies that can reclaim 90 to 95 percent of the metals that are in there,” she said.
While that may be small amounts of metals, Wallace said that is all that is needed for making new computers or cell phones.
According to research Wallace sited, there are 7 billion cell phones in use across the globe and the use of rare earth elements in computers has grown as fast as cell phones.
“(The rare earth elements) are being used in computer memories, DVD’s, rechargeable batteries, cell phones, catalytic converters, magnets, florescent lighting and so much more,” she said.
She said recycling the material is a logical economical situation because it is cheaper to recycle than to dig up and process.
Wallace said for those worried about recycling computers with personal information, donors could simply take out the motherboards and smash them with a hammer before donation.
For those wanting to schedule an appointment or volunteer for Saturday’s event, call Jan at 907-252-2773.
Wallace said exit signs and smoke detectors are not recyclable due to the small amounts of radioactive material in them.