Community

Kitsap launches electronic recycling program

A new local program that facilitates the recycling of electronic components will take effect at the beginning of 2009, giving people the option to dispose of televisions, computers and other modern effluvia without charge.

“We hope this program will eliminate illegal dumping,” said Kitsap Recycling Coordinator Dave Peters, who noted that 157 computers and televisions were left on local roadsides in 2007. “And while we are involved in facilitating the program, we will accomplish this with no cost to the county.”

Senate Bill 6428, passed by the Washington State Legislature in 2006, requires computer manufacturers to fund recycling efforts for their own components, essentially “taking back” materials from their customers when the machines are obsolete at no charge to the consumer.

By law, the service is required to be operational statewide by January.

Peters calls the new statute “the most progressive recycling law in the country.”

Computer manufacturers, such as Dell, Hewlett-Packard and Apple, must enter into agreements with local contractors for return of their own equipment. Since several small manufacturers have gone out of business, each participating vendor must share the expense in the disposal of “orphan” computers.

In order to pay for the program, computer manufacturers raise their retail prices and pass the cost on to the consumer.

But Peters said that most buyers won’t notice — for every $1,000 spent on a PC, the recycling cost is about $10.

“With the economy of scale on a project this size there isn’t much cost to the individual,” he said.

Currently, those needing to dispose of electronics can do so either at the Bainbridge Island or Olympic View transfer stations, for a fee based on the size of the component.

Peters said that about five private contractors have so far applied to supply the service. The awarding of these contracts will determine where the equipment will be dropped off, according to Peters.

When the collectors are finalized the county will publish a complete list of all drop off options so people know where to go in order to get rid of the components.

Peters hopes that the new service will discourage dumping, and restrict the amount of elements like cadmium and mercury that end up in landfills.

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