October 27, 2013

Event sponsored by Washtenaw County recycles unwanted household items

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By Cherise Floyd

On the morning of Oct. 26, cars lined up at the Eastern Michigan University’s Rynearson Stadium parking lot to dispose of everything from traditional recyclables, electronic equipment and freon appliances to household hazardous materials such as paint, oil and cleaning supplies. The event was sponsored by Washtenaw County, LG Electronics USA and Vintage Tech Recyclers.

Dan Moody, Solid Waste Coordinator, said that Vintage Tech, a global leader in the electronics recycling industry, collects about 50,000 to 250,000 pounds of recyclables with every drive they participate in. The company boasts of being zero percent landfill, meaning every item dropped off gets recycled.

The Vintage Tech website states that lead, mercury, cadmium and brominated flame retardants are among the substances of concern in electronics. These substances are included in the products for important performance characteristics, but can cause problems if the products are not properly managed at the end of their lives.

Lead is used in glass in TV and PC cathode ray tubes as well as solder and interconnects. Older CRTs typically contain on average 4 pounds of lead, with as much as 7 pounds in older CRTs, while newer CRTs contain closer to 2 pounds of lead.

Mercury is used in small amount in bulbs to light flat panel computer monitors and notebooks.

Brominated flame retardants are widely used in plastic cases and cables for fire resistance. The more problematic ones have been phased out of newer products but remain in older products.

Cadmium was widely used in nickel-cadmium rechargeable batteries for laptops and other portables. 
Newer batteries, such as nickel-metal hydride and lithium ion, do not contain cadmium. PVC is used in wire and cable sheathing.

These harmful chemicals can be found in a number of electronics located in your home. If you missed the cleanup day, you can visit their website at to check out the next time and location you can drop off your materials.