Finding a place for e-waste

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In the computer age, it’s easy to plug in, log on and download. But it’s not so easy to unplug and discard electronic devices once they’ve become obsolete.

This weekend, however, it’ll be a cinch to recycle electronic waste and raise money for Adolfo Camarillo High School.

The school’s Naturally Green club will host a recycling event from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sat., Nov. 12 in the school’s parking lot so the community can drop off electronics that may have been piling up in the garage.

“With more and more electronic items entering our lives, the amount of e-waste is sure to rise,” said 16-year-old Miranda Merrill, club president. “I hope that initiating change in our community will be the start to something greater, that this event will be one of many to emphasize the ongoing problem of e-waste.”

Orange County- based All Green Electronics Recycling will partner in Saturday’s ewaste drop-off in recognition of the nationwide America Recycles Day on Tues., Nov. 15.

The company will help 40 schools across California recycle, raise money and spark awareness about electronic waste as part of their inaugural Million Pound E-Waste Challenge.

“It’s all about educating the next generation,” said Nathan Hasselblad, a spokesperson with All Green. “It’s important for people to grow up with the thought that when you buy an electronic, you have to recycle it.”

The company will pay each school 5 cents per pound of electronic waste they collect. If the 1- million- pound goal is reached, the company will donate $50,000 in total to the California schools.

E-waste recyclers only need to drive into the parking lot with the electronics in the car. The company’s employees will unload the gadgets and put them into the company’s truck.

Anything that plugs in or needs a battery is accepted, such as monitors, computers, televisions, cellphones and microwaves.

All of the electronic waste will be taken to the company’s Orange County warehouse, where employees take the products apart and extract reusable materials, such as gold from a computer motherboard, copper from a cord or lead from an old monitor.

Other companies then buy those recycled materials from All Green to reuse in new technology.

Hasselblad said it’s important to dispose of electronics correctly because they can release toxins into water and the atmosphere.

Anyone who recycles electronics should make sure a reputable company is processing them, he said; some companies burn the waste or dump it in a landfill, which is cheap and easy but ultimately hazardous.

About 80 percent of electronics wind up in landfills, and Americans throw away about 40,000 cellphones each day, according to the company’s website.

Club adviser Tawney Safran said the thought of recycling electronics hasn’t become mainstream. Younger generations have been raised with recycling plastic and glass, and the thought of throwing trash on the ground is unimaginable now, she said; that automatic process has to happen with e-waste.

“I think a lot of people tend to hold on to their electronics because they’re expensive and they don’t know what to do with them,” Safran said.

The 15 members of Naturally Green will be at the recycling event on Saturday to help unload electronics and educate the community about eco-friendly habits, such as turning off lights and unplugging appliances when not in use.

“I am a part of this club, so I can make a difference at my school and keep our environment clean,” said club member Amanda Alfino, 16. “We are trying to get the city more involved because I’m sure a lot of people have old electronics lying around that they don’t use and have no idea what to do with it.”

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