When you're decluttering your way through a back closet or the garage, you may come across items that don't neatly fit into the normal categories: recycling, selling, donating and tossing. This is the hazy area of ewaste.
Ewaste is electronics you're trying to get rid of. It can't go into the garbage because it's full of toxic stuff that will leak into the soil. It can't go into the recycling because it needs to be separated out into its valuable components first; not a job for the average citizen. If the item in question doesn't work anymore, donating and selling aren't options.
The good news is that recycling of electronic waste is a rapidly growing business. It used to be standard to pay someone to take it off your hands, but many companies will take it for free because of the value of the materials.
Note: it's important to check that the recycler is approved by the State of California. This ensures that none of your donated electronics will wind up in the landfill as hazardous waste.
More good news is that e-waste is not confined to your old DVD player. It includes batteries, coffee grinders, karaoke machines and satellite dishes. So, fill up your trunk with all that electronic clutter and get down to your local recycler.
Here in Oakland, there are two free ewaste drop off events coming up in May:
Universal Waste Management is sponsoring one on May 5 at the DMV, 5300 Claremont Avenue.
Also on May 5 is the Ewaste Collection/Fundraiser for Skyline High School Leadership at 12250 Skyline Blvd. from 9am-4pm. Note that this is a fundraiser, so they'll charge for some items. They're also offering shredding for a fee.
Here are some local options for regular ewaste recycling. Before visiting, check for operating hours, list of acceptable items and if there's a fee for your particular item.
Greenspot Dropoff has an Oakland location at Beacon Self Storage, 2227 San Pablo Avenue.
The Oakland household hazardous waste facility is at 2100 East 7th Street. It's open Thursday through Saturday and charges no fees. Remember, you can recycle batteries via your curbside trash pickup in Oakland. Place them in a sealed bag on top of container on your regular pickup day.
The Alameda County Computer Resource Center at 620 Page Street in Berkeley accepts a wide range of items, many for free. They also refurbish old computers and donate them to schools and non-profits.
Ikea in Emeryville will accept batteries and compact fluorescent light bulbs.
What should you NOT be putting in the trash? Here's a partial list:
Cables, Cords and Wires
Electric Tooth brushes