E-Waste Not, Want Not

The Regional Chamber of Commerce Foundation at New Paltz hosted its second E-Waste Recycling Event to provide a safe way for businesses and households to dispose of old electronics at the ShopRite Supermarket parking lot on Sept. 22.

Households and businesses recycled old electronics including monitors, printers, batteries, cellphones and more. Though the event was free, donations were accepted and households were asked to give $5 while businesses were asked to donate $20. Director of Communications and Marketing for the New Paltz Chamber of Commerce, Janet Nurre, said 75 businesses and households donated more than $700.

Nurre said this event was created to meet the demands of local businesses.

“Partially, it’s because we’ve had people ask us for this,” Nurre said. “This would be a really great way to give people an opportunity to do what they want anyways.”

Nurre said the ShopRite Supermarket was chosen as the location because it’s a “terrific space” and “a great supporter of New Paltz for many years.”

The foundation has partnered with Advanced Recovery Inc., a company that is certified to remove electronics from the waste stream.

According to the company’s website, computer monitors and televisions leak out hazardous materials such as lead, phosphorus and mercury when the glass is crushed in a trash-compacting facility. The particles then become an airborne hazard. Advanced Recovery Inc. collects these electronics to make sure these particles don’t pose a threat to the environment. They repurpose them, harvest the precious metals found in the electronics and sell the parts.

Chief Operating Officer of Advanced Recovery Inc., Mark Rea Jr., said the events have collected an average of 10 tons of electronic waste each. He said the participation has been decent but can increase if local businesses are made more aware of the event.

Nurre said the event aids both the environment and local businesses.

“The most important thing is to make sure that all of these electronic goods are being recycled properly and not harming the environment,” Nurre said. “Companies stay in compliance with state and federal laws [when] they safely dispose of electronics.”

The event was previously held over a period of two days. One day was allotted for households to dispose of their electronics, and the other for businesses.

Nurre said the foundation decided to allow both parties to donate on the same day. According to Nurre, the turnout was probably the same as last year but because New Paltz residents were familiar with the event, it might have attracted more people.

Kathy Drew, owner of Moondance Ridge Bed and Breakfast, attended the E-Waste recycling event for the first time this year. She said her business donated televisions, computer equipment and an old cellphone.

Drew said she disposed of her electronics this way because she knew the Chamber of Commerce Foundation would be environmentally-conscious.

“I knew that the chamber would be working with the company [Advanced Recovery Inc.] and not dump them someplace,” Drew said. “It was very easy, very professional.”

The money collected at the event will go toward a scholarship provided by the foundation. Members of the Regional Chamber of Commerce and immediate family are eligible to receive this scholarship.

The Regional Chamber of Commerce Foundation focuses on supporting the education of Mid-Hudson Valley residents by providing annual scholarships to students pursuing higher education.  The first scholarship was awarded by the foundation in 2007.

Nurre said the foundation was opened as a 501-C3 so that donations would be tax-deductible and would hopefully provide people with an incentive to donate money.

Rea said these events play a dual role in bringing recycling awareness to communities.

“It is very important that these types of events are held to divert electronic waste from our landfills and into the proper recycling channels,” Rea said. “These events not only keep the local environment ‘green,’ but they instill a sense of awareness in the community about the proper recycling methods available.”