Recycle electronic devices Thursday
Nov 13, 2012 (Ocala Star-Banner - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
When most people look at an electronics device -- say a laptop computer -- they mostly see the computing or graphics ability of the machine. Rob Cole sees $13.50. When it's a cellphone, about $7. A smoke detector, 10 cents. A computer keyboard, 30 cents.
What: America Recycles Day
When: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 15
Where: Recycle All Electronics, 1500 SW 17th Ave.
Old, unwanted electronics can be turned in Thursday
For the past 15 years, Cole, 41, has been in the business of recycling electronics, gutting devices for their precious metals, or refurbishing them for resale.
His wife, Morgan, his partner in Recycle All Electronics, said that regardless of the electronic device's next step after leaving their 20,000-square-foot facility, they are not heading to the county landfill, where dangerous metals can leach into soil and groundwater.
"We've been told we're a modern day 'Sanford and Son,' " Morgan Cole said, referencing the 1970s television program about a junkyard owner.
"Or urban miner," Rob Cole added.
The goal is to recycle every bit of the devices and have nothing end up in the ground.
The business handles as much as 100,000 pounds of recyclable electronics per month, mostly from vendors or government entities selling the materials to be reused or shredded. It also accepts old electronics equipment from residents, charging a fee if the devices have hazardous materials such as those in cathode ray tubes found in old television sets or older computer monitors.
But on Thursday, America Recycles Day, the business will accept any kind of electronic device from county residents without charge, regardless of whether hazardous materials are part of the makeup, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 1500 SW 17th Ave.
"You don't even have to get out of your car ... we'll take it," Morgan Cole said.
The business is the only such facility in Marion County participating in the event.
"America Recycles Day celebrates the benefits of recycling while providing an educational platform that helps raise awareness about the value of reducing, reusing and recycling -- every day -- all throughout the year," according to the America Recycles Day website.
For the Coles, most people's electronic garbage is their financial bread and butter. Rob Cole watches market prices for the metals he shreds from electronic devices -- such as gold, silver and palladium -- to ensure his business remains viable.
"This business is one when people find out what we do, they say, "What ' '' Morgan Cole said.
Rob Cole said part of the business is spotting trends to be ahead of the curve and remain profitable. That kind of thinking has grown the business from eight employees to 12.
When he started in the business, not much was done by the industry to ensure information on computers and pagers was destroyed. And many electronic devices ended up in the public landfill. But now a growing number of businesses want assurances that information is removed and materials from the devices won't harm the environment, he said.
Recycle All Electronics is one of the few facilities in a multi-county area that is R2 certified -- meaning it is required to follow industry set Responsible Recycling Practices. The company also follows ISO14001:2004 environmental standards.
Rob Cole said getting the certification was necessary as more businesses wanted to make sure his recycling facility was disposing of its materials properly.
"We were having doors closed on us left and right (before certification)," he said.
He's also seeing a more diverse electronics waste stream. While cellphones still make up the largest portion, he said he is seeing far more gaming units than a few years ago. In addition, more people have electronic devices than ever before, he said.
The Coles buy the unwanted equipment in bulk, thousands of pounds at a time. They sell it the same way. Many refurbished devices end up in other countries for reuse.
The company is the first to have an electronics waste contract with Marion County, which includes collecting unwanted electronics at sites designated by the county on given days throughout the year. The county landfill also sends residents with unwanted electronics to the business for disposal.
As for the future, Rob Cole predicts the electronic waste stream will only grow as more people buy devices and then dispose of them for newer models. Now when he sees someone drop and break a phone, or a child playing with an electronic toy, he says he knows there's a good chance it will end up at his facility.
Contact Fred Hiers at 352-867-4157 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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