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June 7, 2011

Electronics Recycling a 'Conscious Choice'

By LAURA BOLLIN
Contributing Writer

 

For the last year, the village has provided residents with a venue to give their old, unwanted electronics a brand-new chance at life; a move that is also helping to prevent the irresponsible disposal of the items, which can wreak havoc on the environment.

 

The Forest Park electronics recycling program lets residents recycle their unwanted electronics Monday through Friday, from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the Forest Park Public Works building, 7343 W. 15th St. It’s part of a year-old partnership with Vintage Tech Recyclers, a Romeoville-based electronics recycling agency, and the West Suburban Cook County Solid Waste Agency that is aimed at keeping the harmful toxins in metals commonly used in electronics out of landfills.

 

Megan Bistry, the account services consultant for Vintage Tech, said people do not realize that some materials used in electronics are extremely hazardous to the environment.

 

“There is lead and mercury in these products,” Bistry said. “The lead or mercury can go into landfills and then go into the water. Most of the materials in the equipment are recoverable and reusable. It is better to be reusing then throwing them away, if they can be used for recyclable materials.”

 

Vintage Tech Recyclers accepts many used electronics, including: cell phones; laptops; computers; printers; fax machines; monitors; circuit boards; photocopiers; televisions; LCD-screens; wires; cables; computer parts; computer mice; keyboards; mp3 players; personal-data assistants such as Palm Pilots; scanners; microwaves; CD-, VCR-, and DVD-players; stereos; and video game consoles (to name a few!). (For information on items that are not accepted, call village hall at 708 366 2323 ).

 

Bistry said that the company tries to reuse as many parts and products as possible. Cell phones contain many different metals, including zinc, gold, silver, platinum, copper, and tin, all of which can be recovered in the recycling process. The metals can then be used for jewelry plating, plumbing and new electronics. Plastic from cell phones can also be recycled, and put to use in garden furniture, containers and automotive parts.

 

“When the residents drop off their equipment, the village will notify us when the [bins] are full,” Bistry said. “All hard drives are removed from computers and are wiped or destroyed. Computers and electronic materials are dismantled and recycled. Plastics would then go to a plastics recycler, metals to a metal recycler, and so on. Anything reusable we try to reuse as much as possible.”

 

Forest Parker Jill Wagner said she plans to donate her old electronics and added that she believes the program’s positive environmental impact is an asset to the community.

 

She explained: “We have a duty to our fellow citizens to respect one another and respect this planet. It is really important that we make conscious choices when we are putting things in the garbage, when we use water, in everything that we do. If we all make little choices, it has a big effect on this planet.”