'E-Cycling' Movement Catches On With Consumers, Municipalities

Baltimore County, Md., Councilman Kevin Kamenetz held up a broken DVD player he cheerfully described as the casualty of a recent encounter with his two-year-old son.

Previously, Kamenetz would have had to toss the $40 DVD player in the trash or wait for one of Baltimore County's special days for the recycling of electronics — of which there have been only nine in the past five years.

But last Friday, Kamenetz was among a half-dozen county politicians and officials on hand for the opening of the county's brand new "E-Cycling Center" on Warren Road in Cockeysville.

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Like Kamenetz, several thousand county residents will now have the opportunity to drop off their unwanted or broken electronics for recycling or reuse.

The unloading site, located at the Baltimore County Resource Recovery Facility, will be open Monday through Saturday from 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Electronic items that the new center will accept include televisions, videocassette recorders, cell phones, stereos and computer equipment. Microwaves or other household appliances will not be accepted.

Electronics often contain hazardous materials like lead, mercury and cadmium that pose a threat to the environment if they are sent to landfills.

"The toxins that are in electronics are really dangerous," said Maryland State Delegate Dan K. Morhaim, D-Baltimore County, who is also a physician. "They're safe on your desk, but they're not safe when they hit the environment. Whether it hits the environment one year, five years or fifty years from now, it's so important that these products be managed safely."

Baltimore County Executive James T. Smith Jr. said that the success of past electronics recycling days — county officials say 839,000 pounds of electronics was collected — inspired officials to establish a permanent site.

"You don't have to store these things up buried in your closets and basements until that one collection day comes," Smith said.

Smith also lauded the program as a means to ease pressure on the county's limited landfill space. He said that the county's lone landfill, located in White Marsh, is already half-full.

At a price of $.04 per pound, the county contracted with Supreme Computer & Electronic Recycling, Inc., of Lakewood, N.J., to collect the site's electronics and recycle or reuse them, according to Charles M. Reighart, recycling and waste management manager for Baltimore County.

Reighart said the company agreed that no recyclable or reusable materials will be put in landfills.

Electronics that are fixable will be reused and in many cases pumped back into the marketplace, he said, while unfixable equipment will be broken down into its component parts and recycled. Material that cannot be recycled will be disposed of.

Clyde Trombetti, public information specialist for the Baltimore County bureau of solid waste management, said just about any electronic item had several parts that could be reused.

Reusable parts of a computer, he cited as an example, can range in size from a small chip to a larger motherboard.

Cockeysville resident Henry Lee turned out for the ribbon cutting event and breathed a sigh of relief. He says the new program is a no-brainer.

"The more electronic products we can keep out of the landfills, the better off we're all going to be," he said. "So much of this stuff can be reused and recycled."

Capitol News Service contributed to this report.