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Go green with gadgets
Gwinnett lags behind in e-waste recycling, but solution may be on the way

LAWRENCEVILLE - They sit in your garage or basement collecting dust because they don't work anymore or you don't want them.

The TV's, computers, printers, phones, clocks, radios, iPods, CD players, tape players, Nintendos, PlayStations, etc.

In the technological age we live in, the list could go on and on.

But what are you supposed to do with these electronic gadgets when we you're through with them?

Though more than 30 different materials are now accepted for recycling at both Gwinnett's Recycle Bank in Duluth and at the SP Recycling Corporation in Lawrenceville, electronic items are one set of goods not accepted at either location. So disposing of them is an ongoing challenge.

LuAnn Chambers of SP Recycling Corporation said throwing them in your trash container shouldn't be an option.

"Don't put it on the curb," Chambers said. "You don't want them going to landfill. There are a lot of electronic recycling companies around here, but you just don't get rid of these items on a curb event. You do them on a set day as a dropoff event because they (electronics recyclers) need to handle them a certain way."

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, recyclers recover more than 100 million pounds of materials from electronics each year, which helps reduce pollution and energy consumption that would be generated while manufacturing a new product. Electronic recycling also prevents the further extraction of "valuable and limited virgin resources."

Chambers said electronics recyclers isolate the precious metals and plastics contained within the products, but it's an arduous process because each item requires individual attention by a person, and not a machine. She is surprised Gwinnett County has not tried to copy the efforts of its neighboring counties when it comes to handling e-waste.

"Gwinnett County is probably the only county I can think of in metro Atlanta that has not held a yearly electronic waste recycling day," she said. "Forsyth has them twice a year. DeKalb has them and Fulton just had a massive one."

Connie Wiggins of Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful, which operates the Recycle Bank, acknowledged the e-waste recycling conundrum.

"We've struggled with this," she said. "Things have gotten better, but the one thing in Gwinnett we've not wanted to do is to collect those materials and turn them over to somebody who cannot guarantee that they were not handled properly and just dropped off on somebody else."

However, Wiggins said Gwinnettians can expect some e-waste recycling events soon.

"There are companies now that have perfected things, and we've been trying to find a way to establish a permanent site at the Recycling Bank or perhaps at another location so you could bring in electronics at your convenience," she said. "It's about the convenience and it's about making sure those materials are handled properly."

Chambers said recycling electronics really is a public service initiative, because from the standpoint of SP Recycling and the Recycle Bank, which don't accept electronics, there is no money to be made.

But she said there are companies out there that want the stuff.

"There are lots of different electronics recyclers in metro Atlanta that will work with everyone on electronic waste programs," she said.

SideBar: If you recycle

For people attending the Gwinnett Braves game today at 2 p.m. vs. Durham, the team encourages fans to celebrate Earth Day by bringing in old electronics to be recycled by Electronics Recycling Services.

According to the EPA and the Electronic Industries Alliance's Consumer Education Initiative, the following Gwinnett-based companies recycle different types of electronic items. Contact each or visit the EPA's Web site for more information.

· CompuPoint USA in Norcross

· Computer Exchange in Lawrenceville

· Electronics Recycling Services in Norcross

· JJS in Norcross

· PDG Computers in Loganville

· Best Buy stores, according to Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful's Web site, will accept most consumer electronics for recycling, including TV's up to 32 inches for a fee of $10.