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Recycle old electronics in Homer

Posted: Thursday, April 07, 2011

Spring is in the air and boaters on the Kenai Peninsula are preparing for a summer on the water. From crabbers and seiners to Tolmans and sailboats, most of us have electronics on board. And after seasons of weather and hard use, replacing these electronics is just a part of doing business as a boat owner.

Electronics on board may include radars, GPS, plotters, radios, float switches, wireless devices, TVs, and computers. All of these items contain materials that are both precious and toxic. Mercury, lead, cadmium, and fire retardants are just a few of these. By improperly disposing of our electronic waste, we are risking further contamination of our water and our fish by these toxic, and otherwise precious, metals. A study by the United Nations estimates e-waste production may increase by 500 percent in the next decade. Combine this with the estimate that nearly 40 percent of lead and 70 percent of heavy metals in landfills come from e-waste, and you can see a problem. Gold, lead, and copper can all be reclaimed and re-used from electronic waste products. Capturing these precious metals through electronics recycling reduces our demand on mining and contributes greatly to the responsible use of non-renewable resources. According to the EPA, one metric ton of circuit boards alone can contain up to 800 times the concentration of gold ore and 40 times the concentration of copper ore that is mined in the United States. Ultimately, recycling these materials protects our quality of life by decreasing the risk of polluted water and contaminated fish.

If you are wondering whether or not your electronics contain hazardous materials, ask yourself these three questions: 1) Does it have a digital display? 2) Does it have a circuit board? 3) Does it have rechargeable batteries? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then join us for Homer's 6th Annual Electronics Recycling event.

On Saturday, April 23, we'll be at Spenard Builders Supply on Lake Street in Homer from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Households can bring a carload of electronics for $15 -- this cost includes two computer monitors or small TVs. Additional monitors and TVs are $15 or $25, depending on size. Businesses, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations must call 235-6262 beforehand to schedule an appointment. Prices are $0.35/pound for businesses and agencies, and $0.25/pound for nonprofits. The charge for recycling your e-waste covers the cost for Anchorage's Total Reclaim, Inc. to recycle or re-use the valuable parts and pieces at their Seattle facility.

We hope to see you on Saturday, April 23! Remember that capturing and re-using metals from our used electronics is a win-win for our communities, our fisheries, and our environment.

Rachel Lord, Homer



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