Don’t let your electronic trash go to waste

Done with that boom box? Don’t trash it – recycle it. Richmond City is sponsoring an Electronics and Hazardous Waste Collection Event this Saturday at The Diamond from noon to 4pm.

ForkliftInstead of tossing your unwanted electronics to the side of the road, consider dropping your trash off at The Diamond on Saturday, Nov. 17. The Central Virginia Waste Management and the City of Richmond will host the one-day event from noon until 4 p.m.

Everyone, not just Richmond residents, can participate. It’s an opportunity to help the environment as well as clear space that your unwanted electronics are taking up in your home.

The University of Richmond hosted an e-waste recycling event on Oct. 11-13 similar to this effort. University officials said the campus collected about 250,000 pounds of computers, keyboards and other electronics.

The University of Richmond collected all electronics free of charge. However, at The Diamond on Saturday, there will be small fees to recycle televisions, computer monitors and compact fluorescent light bulbs.

Plastic televisions and computer monitors will be charged $5 each, wood televisions $10 each and fluorescent light bulbs 25 cents each. These electronics require special handling because of the leaded glass and mercury they contain.

Cell phones, computers and other technology release toxins into the environment when they are thrown away. The only way to stop the pollution is to recycle them.

Environmentalists say electronics clog landfills, pollute the air and groundwater supplies from coast to coast.

Grace Howard is a strong advocate for e-waste recycling and pushes for initiatives like the one being hosted by the City of Richmond and the Central Virginia Waste Management Authority.

“If Richmond city had better recycling facilities, there wouldn’t be a fee to get rid of them, but recycling facilities are extremely limited,” Howard said. She said the city can handle only Level 1 and 2 plastics.

Level 1 plastics are made of polyethylene terephthalate (PETE) such as soda and water bottles, medicine containers and other common consumer product containers. Level 2 plastics contain high-density polyethylene such as laundry and bleach detergent containers, milk cartons and shampoo and motor oil bottles.

Howard, a student environmentalist at VCU and a member of the Sierra Student Coalition, usually donates her electronic gadgets and takes them to a recycling center.

“Any trash that we just throw away goes to a landfill. This takes up large areas of land and can sometimes lead to harmful chemicals being released into the environment,” Howard said.

She believes in educating people about recycling and the harm caused when people do not take recycling serious.

Amber Brooks, a VCU junior, believes the initiative is a good thing and agrees with Howard. “I know I’m done with cleaning out my apartment for the fall, and I want to get rid of my old TV. This event can give residents like myself an opportunity to help save the environment for a better cause.”

Shanell Jackson is a journalism student at VCU.

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