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Shelby Township

May 1, 2013

Committee focuses on green living

Nears 1 million pounds of electronics recycled

By Sara Kandel
C & G Staff Writer

» click to enlarge «
Marietta Crabtree, the chair of Shelby Township’s Solid Waste and Recycling Committee, compares an old computer processor (left) to a new computer processor (right) at an open house event at the new Vintage Tech location in Canton.
Is this recyclable?

SHELBY TOWNSHIP — The Shelby Township Solid Waste and Recycling Committee accepts a variety of electronic materials at their Sustainable Saturday events, held 11 times a year, on the last Saturday of every month except December.

Accepted electronics include: televisions, computers, laptops, monitors, printers, fax machines, copiers, VCRs, speakers, stereos, handheld electronics, telephones, cellphones, keyboards, mouse pads, cables, holiday lights, microwaves, DVD players, CD players, game consoles, motherboards, miscellaneous computer parts, electronic accessories and other electronic items.

The committee is close to meeting the milestone of having recycled 1 million pounds of electronics since the start of the program two and a half years ago. Drop off old or broken electronics and help them reach the green milestone at their next Sustainable Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 25 at the township municipal offices, located at 52700 Van Dyke, at 24 Mile Road.

— Sara Kandel

SHELBY TOWNSHIP — The Shelby Township Solid Waste and Recycling Committee has long been working to make recycling more convenient for residents, and it’s paying off as residents are gearing up to pass a landmark.

This month, they’ll likely top 1 million pounds of electronics collected at their monthly electronic recycling event, Sustainable Saturday.

The committee holds Sustainable Saturday events 11 times a year, on the last Saturday of every month except December. From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the event days, residents from around metro Detroit can drop off used and old electronic equipment. On April 27, about 300 cars came through, but it wasn’t enough to put them over the 1 million mark.

“We’re close to 1 million pounds; we are thinking next month we’ll reach it,” said Marietta Crabtree, chair of the committee.

“It was incredible how many cars came through, but we’re always busy on household hazardous waste collection days. It was electronics recycling and household hazardous waste collection day.”

Normally, the event is limited to electronics recycling, but the last Saturday in April included household hazardous waste, as well. Although neither event is new to the township, last Saturday marked a special occasion.

Just days before the event, Crabtree and committee Treasurer Marsha Livermore were able to get an up-close look at electronics recycling during an open house at the new Vintage Tech facility in Canton.

For years before they began working with Vintage Tech, the committee hosted annual electronics recycling days, but when they discovered the Chicago-based company a few years ago, they upped their schedule to 11 times a year.

“We immediately embraced Vintage Tech — it wouldn’t cost the city anything because our committee volunteers volunteered to work the event, and we could host electronics recycling days more frequently,” Crabtree said.

“And what’s really nice about it is that, with the kind of environmental certification that Vintage Tech has, it’s guaranteed that all these materials are going to be recycled in a way that is safe for the environment and the workers.

“That’s why we are so excited about working with them; not only are they keeping this hazardous material out of the landfills, but they are doing it in a way that guarantees it is processed right here in the United States and not in some Third World country where the workers are being exposed to the toxic materials and the extraction process is bad for the environment. They are doing it in a way that is good stewardship for the environment.”

Vintage Tech is an electronics recycling and asset management company that holds four high-level environmental compliance certifications.

They recently opened a facility in Canton and offered tours during the open house April 24.

“What makes us so much more economically viable than most recyclers is most recyclers take products in this form and export them to a processor. We don’t do that,” said Todd Gibson, vice president of sales. “We turn them into mill-ready material right here.

“Another difference between us and a lot of recyclers is we work directly with the mills; we ship directly to the mills — there is no broker, no middle man. There’s nobody taking control of the materials and shipping them somewhere where we don’t know.”

The hour-long tour included an up-close look at line workers disassembling old TVs and monitors, punching holes through hard drives, detaching motherboards and separating out raw materials.

“There’s lead, mercury and cadmium in old TVs — these are things you absolutely don’t want to go into a landfill. They’re toxic,” Crabtree said following the open house.

“That’s why electronic recycling events are so important — we have had people come from as far as Harsen’s Island to drop off electronics for recycling — and I think as more information on this spreads, more and more communities are going to do this.”

For Crabtree and the committee, getting the information on the importance of recycling is a key objective.

“We really need communication,” she said. “It’s so important to get the information out there in newspapers and in social media, and to get schools the resources they need to include in the curriculum information on the environment and ways to show the value and importance of recycling.”

In an effort to get information to the public, the committee has dedicated time to finding information to post on their website. They have links for various recycling days around metro Detroit, links detailing how and where to recycle different materials, and links to recycling news and statistics.

“We even have a link that tells you what to do if you break an energy efficient light bulb — how to clean it up and what to do with the garbage,” Crabtree said. “One of our committee members does websites for a living and he’s done a fantastic job with it, and we have a link for just about everything recycling out there.”

For more information on the Shelby Township Solid Waste and Recycling Committee, visit www.shelbytwp.org/recycle. For more information on Vintage Tech, visit www.vintagetechrecyclers.com.

Electronics recycling is available from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 25 in the municipal building parking lot, located at 52700 Van Dyke.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Sara Kandel at skandel@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1030.