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Dump electronics for free in Island County

Effective this weekend, electronics manufacturers are paying for the recycling of computer towers, monitors, laptops and televisions through the new E-Cycle Washington program.

Four Island County solid waste and recycling facilities are participating in the new statewide program including the North Whidbey Drop Box Station, the Solid Waste Complex near Coupeville, Island Recycling near Freeland and the Camano Island Transfer Station.

County participation has been coordinated with the Washington Materials Management & Financing Authority, the county’s recycle services vendor, Island Recycling, the Washington State University Extension Waste Wise program and the state Department of Ecology.

Washington Materials is the agency charged with establishing and overseeing the statewide program, collector network and data provisions of the Electronic Product Recycling Act that passed in July 2006.

The law allows households, schools, small businesses, small governments, special purpose districts, and non-profits to drop off specified electronics for recycling.

“This program is unique in that it is entirely manufacturer funded, and shows that Washington is a leader in providing responsible recycling of unwanted electronics products,” says John Friedrick, executive director of WMMFA, in a news release. “We expect to collect and process over 20 million pounds of electronic waste in the first year of operations.”

The collector network will include over 200 individual collection sites in every county in the state and in every city or town with a population greater than 10,000.

At the start of operations in January, covered products accepted free of charge will only include, computer towers, monitors, laptops, and televisions.

Both Friedrick and the county expect some confusion at first as not all electronic products will be accepted, including keyboards, mice, printers, scanners, and other electrical devices and appliances. Postage paid mailing envelopes are available at the sites for the recycling of cell phones and ink-jet printer cartridges.

Jerry Mingo, Island County’s recycle and hazardous waste coordinator, said, “There are recycle markets for electronic devices made primarily of steel, but not for dead scanners, mice and other plastic peripheral equipment. Monitors and computers contain most of the toxic heavy metals, most notoriously lead.”

Mingo lauded the program. “This is the first affordable collection of home and office electronics available to our residents with reasonable safeguards against the dumping of this toxic post-consumer equipment on developing countries that lack worker and environmental controls.”

“We are very excited,” says Janet Hall, the Waste Wise volunteer coordinator with the Washington State University Extension. “Residents frequently ask us about electronics recycling, and our volunteers will be there for the start-up days of this new program.”

Products collected under the program will be taken to an approved processor that has agreed to follow the state’s processing standards, intended to ensure that no materials either hazardous to the environment or to human health are allowed to enter landfills in this country or abroad. All materials will be accounted for and all processors will be subject to state audit and reporting requirements.

School districts, small businesses and small governments with larger quantities of more than 10 units are asked to call WMMFA toll-free at 866-779-6632 for handling instructions.

For more information visit www.ecyclewashington.org or call 1-800-RECYCLE.

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