Taking care of eWaste

PUHI — About six tons of old computers, TVs, cell phones and other unwanted electronic items have been collected at the Puhi Metals Recycling Center, said Ryan Evans, manager of Resource Recovery Solutions.

“That’s pretty good, considering we just started,” Evans said. “We’ve been busy.”

PMRC has been collecting eWaste since June 1. It is open Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“People like it because it’s convenient,” Evans said. “They don’t have to store it until collection day.”

Before PMRC started accepting eWaste daily, Kauai residents had to wait until the second Friday and Saturday of the month to drop off their unwanted electronics at the Kauai Resource Center, which closed last month after Kauai County’s three-year contract with T&N Computer Recycling Center ended.

When electronics are dropped off at PMRC, crew members write down what town they came from and brand.

The eWaste is then loaded onto a pallet to be weighed and loaded into a Matson truck.

As of Wednesday, about half of the 40-foot truck was filled. Once the container is full, it will be shipped to IMS Electronics Recycling in Vancouver, Washington to be disassembled and separated for recycling.

Each pallet is stacked to about 52 inches, wrapped and stacked into the container.

“It’s like Tetris. Space is key, so we have to pack in in there,” Evans said. “And, with shipping costs, we have to make it worth it.”

When the container is filled to capacity, Evans expects to ship off about 14 tons of eWaste.

“That should happen next week,” he said.

Because PMRC usually recycles metal, the crew had to attend a short seminar on how to correctly handle electronics, he said.

“It’s pretty simple, but we don’t want to break the computer monitors because of the lead that’s inside,” Evans said. “It was basic, common sense stuff like don’t the equipment around.”

In addition to filling a need in the county, PMRC also keeps unwanted electronics from ending up in the landfill, said Lyle Tabata, acting county engineer.

“It allows the public to recycle their old electronics, and keep toxic waste out of our landfill and preserve our resources for future generations,” he said.

He estimates the county recycles about 240 tons of eWaste a year.

The most popular electronics recycled on Kauai are TVs, followed by printers, personal computers, computer monitors and laptops, Tabata said.

PMRC also accepts items like satellite dishes, toasters, blenders, coffee makers, hair dryers and vacuum cleaners.

The free eWaste recycling program is subsidized by electronics retailers and manufacturers who are required to provide recycling programs in Hawaii under the Electronic Device and Television Recycling Law, which was passed in 2010, Tabata said.

“Kauai has been very fortunate to benefit from free programs to the county and for local businesses, as this is not the case statewide,” he said.

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