Keeping the lead out of landfills |

Keeping the lead out of landfills

NWS Recycle Computers SM 6-8-07

VAIL – It cost Brian Seidel five bucks to recycle his old, outdated computer.That’s not such a bad price for doing the right thing, he said.”If it was $50, that would be different, but five isn’t bad. It’s actually quite convenient,” Seidel said.He was one of several people who dropped off old electronics, sometimes by the truckload, at the Vail Municipal Building on Saturday. They were getting rid of junk, but they were doing it the eco-friendly way.

As technology grows faster than you can sign onto AOL and as things like computers become cheaper to replace, yesterday’s now-useless electronics are piling up in company storerooms, warehouses and family garages. When it’s finally time to toss them, sending them out with the daily garbage – and ultimately to a landfill – can be harmful to the environment. Electronics are filled with toxins like lead and mercury, which can seep into groundwater.Most computer monitors, for instance, have 5 to 8 pounds of lead – which isn’t exactly a good thing to have sitting in a landfill, said Matt McLaughlin, a sales manager with Guaranteed Recycling Xperts, the company handling Saturday’s drop-off along with the Eagle Valley Alliance for Sustainability.”Forty percent of all the lead in landfills is electronic waste,” he said.

GRX ensures that all of the electronics waste it handles is recycled into raw materials that can be used in the making of new products. McLaughlin said that, unfortunately, many groups that are supposedly recycling electronics end up shipping their waste to landfills in developing and Third World countries, where it’s really easy for the toxic metals to seep into the ground. Or the waste could be incinerated, which isn’t a good thing either.By the end of Saturday, between 8,000 and 9,000 pounds of monitors, keyboards, televisions, stereos, cell phones, cords and batteries had been gathered in Vail.Do the right thingAsking people to pay to get rid of junk isn’t always an easy sell. Recycling cans and bottles is usually a quick drop-off without a checkbook.

Jamie Rocksen, of Vail, sort of shrugged at the idea of dropping off her electronics and paying someone to take it all away.”I’ll probably use my computer to the bitter end, then I’d probably stack it in my closet,” Rocksen said. “I can see why we should recycle that stuff though.”Matt Scherr, executive director of the alliance, said most locals don’t seem to have much of a problem with the idea.”First time we did it, nobody balked,” Scherr said. “Colorado seems to be leading the way.”

GRX’s biggest customers are universities, hospitals, technology companies and government offices – places that frequently update their technology. The average life span of a computer is two years these days, and replacing computers is much cheaper than actually repairing them, said Laura Jacobsen with GRX.Bridget Davis, of Vail, filled up the back of her car with old electronics from the Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch. She said it wasn’t a problem to rally everyone together.Scherr said there will be another electronics recycling drop-off Aug. 10 in the Eagle/Gypsum area. A location had not been confirmed.Staff Writer Matt Terrell can be reached at 748-2955 or

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