Get set to dispose of old electronics

Published 10:06 am Thursday, September 6, 2012

Column: Randy Tuchtenhagen, Solid Waste Officer

The electronic collection program offered by the Freeborn County Environmental Services Department has been operating since 2002, and collections have always been held at the Freeborn County Fairgrounds. There are other options for disposal of electronics just like this obsolete integrated circuits, most of them being outside of Freeborn County — in Owatonna, the Twin Cities.

Randy Tuchtenhagen

The city of Albert Lea will take electronics at its transfer station on West Richway Drive. Prices vary depending upon where you take your electronic units for disposal.

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What are electronics? In 2002 the Minnesota State Legislature passed a law that prohibited “video display devices” from being landfilled, including flatscreens TVs and monitors. That law only affected businesses and not homeowners.

However, in 2008 the law was expanded to include “any person” in the state being prohibited from placing video display devices into the trash. The true definition of electronics is typically not limited to video display devices and may include printers, copy machines, computer towers and fax machines. It does not usually apply to cellphones, toasters, radios or their related hardware. This is why we have held electronics collections and not video display collections. We would like to see everything get recycled instead of landfilled.

When we host an electronics collection we are looking for televisions and computer monitors but accept copy machines, printers, fax machines, computer towers and their related hardware. All items brought to our collections are recycled. The units are dismantled at a facility and recycled in many different ways. We have always been careful to partner with a company that has a good reputation, licensing by the state of Minnesota and a track record of recycling and not landfilling hard-to-recycle items.

In the past we have not charged for the related hardware such as computer mice, speakers and wiring. The Sept. 28 collection this fall will again take those items at no cost. Also, there will be no cost for computer monitors, towers and the smaller televisions. There will be a cost for the large floor speakers, console TV sets, any unit that is partially dismantled or glass broken and the large projection televisions. This change was in part due to the new partnership we have designed with 5R Processors from Ladysmith, Wis. Nearly everything about our collection this fall will remain the same, except we will have a different vendor working with us.

In past years a busy day for these collections included 100 to as many as 316 vehicles. The number of units collected at past collections varies from 739 to 1,591.

We have put a lot of thought and planning into making this program as easy, convenient and cost effective as possible for our county residents, and there is no guarantee that these low prices or no cost for some items will be available next year.

Now is the time to get rid of old equipment and take advantage of our “special” pricing. My counterparts throughout the state of Minnesota tell me their vendors are still charging for most electronics and we have not seen a trend or movement toward lower or no costs for handling these special wastes. International markets and handling/transportation costs are certainly an issue when pricing is being determined.

Follow the signs and please remain in your vehicle. We will strive to move the lines quickly and have you on your way in a short time. We cannot accept items before or after the posted 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. collection time.


Randy Tuchtenhagen is the Freeborn County solid waste officer.