Columbia to Host Electronic Recycling Event

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COLUMBIA - The city of Columbia will host an electronic waste collection event Saturday, August 17. The event will be in the parking lot of Home Depot on Clark Lane.

Throwing away electronics, such as televisions, cell phones and microwaves, shouldn't be the same process as throwing away other trash. Electronics should be recycled, while trash can be put in dumpsters and then brought to a landfill.

Electronics have hazardous materials in them, such as lead, heavy metal and mercury. If electronics are put into dumpsters, they will eventually be put into landfills. The dangerous substances could leak from the landfills and eventually contaminate drinking water.

While it hasn't happened in Columbia yet, Waste Minimization Supervisor Layli Terrill said hazardous leakage is always a possibility and concern, especially now that people are using more and more electronics.

"People don't think about recycling electronics all the time like they do beverage containers or paper products or things like that," Terrill said. "The electronics have the potential to have leachate that is toxic and hazardous so it's important we dispose of them [electronics] properly, and the best way to dispose of them is to recycle them."

Stanley Fredrick, CEO of Mid-Mo Recycling, said, "Just a simple computer monitor contains about four pounds of lead. Do people really want to be putting that lead into the landfill because it is possible it could leach the water and contaminate the water system?"

In addition to preventing a hazardous leak, recycling electronics can also save the city and taxpayers money.

"The city owns its own landfill, so anytime we can keep materials out of the landfill, it's a win for us because landfills are highly engineered products," Terrill said. "They cost millions of dollars to design, maintain, operate. So if we can keep material of any sort out of the landfill, we're saving the city money and therefore our citizens and users of the landfill money."

Terrill said recycling electronics can also be beneficial to the environment.

When electronics are recycled, people like Fredrick can take them apart and salvage certain parts. Those parts can then be used as commodity metals, such as steep, copper and aluminum. This saves money and energy as an alternative to extracting the metals from the earth, which emits greenhouse gases.

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