Saturday, November 10, 2007

Recycle Your Computer at Blind Center of Nevada

More than two million tons of electronic waste is dumped into landfills every year, and the Environmental Protection Agency says eventually that could cause major problems.

Eyewitness News found a local group that's working to keep your high-tech trash out of the Las Vegas Valley dumps. For the past two years, workers at the Blind Center of Nevada have being sorting, stacking, and shrink wrapping the valley's computer trash.

"The more we keep out of landfill the better," said Bob Waldorf, the president of operations for the Blind Center of Nevada.

Waldorf says 1,300 computers are kicked to the curb every day. This electronic waste is especially toxic, filled with mercury, flame retardants and worst of all lead.

Republic Recycling's Bob Coyle said, "The U.S. EPA was concerned about the amount of lead on the screen and monitors and felt they should be kept out of landfills."

The lead wires inside could contaminate the ground soil and water. Fortunately, Las Vegas landfills have safeguards to stop that kind of toxic catastrophe.

Bob Coyle continued, "Our landfill is lined in Las Vegas to stop contamination of the water."

Still, workers at the Blind Center are battling the new-age waste hauling in more than 2 million pounds of computer equipment every year, recycling, reconditioning, selling, and even donating it to local non-profits.

"The life of a PC in business maybe three to four years, but a life of a PC could be 10 to 12 years, so there is still a lot of useable life," Bob Waldorf explained.

The computer recycle program started as a way to help protect the environment but now the Blind Center of Nevada is taking it one step further by increasing personal security. They wipe the hard drive clean of all of your person information.

"It's just taking care of Mother Earth is what it's all about," Bob Coyle added.

Coyle says the computer recycling program helps, but high-tech trash is a growing mountain that they are trying to shrink into a mole hill. Republic Recycling officials say they expect to see an increase in TVs at landfills, as more people upgrade to high definition.

State lawmakers say they're considering charging extra recycling fees for those who buy new electronics to help off set recycling costs.