Recycling is electric in Shelby County

Published 5:21 pm Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Shelby County’s earth-friendly folks don’t have to stop at recycling newspapers and aluminum cans.

To help conserve the earth just a little bit more, haul your old appliances, batteries and computer gear to the Shelby County landfill.

The landfill will turn the items over to Technical Knockout, a Birmingham company that specializes in electronic recycling.

“It’s a good thing for us because it doesn’t take up landfill space,” said county environmental manager Robert Kelley.

People can drop their old junk off free of charge, and Technical Knockout will take it from there.

Founder Elise Warren said the company dissembles the electronic items and separates the metals and plastics, which are made into pipes by different Alabama companies.

“Last year, we did 140 tons of metal and plastic,” she said. “It’s good for Alabama, and for saving the environment and for saving products from going into the landfill.”

Technical Knockout finds uses for every part of any recycled electronic device.

“We recycle every single thing, from the circuit boards, to the wiring, to the backup batteries,” she said. “Every single thing.”

The company accepts anything that uses power except for TVs. The company hasn’t found a reputable business that can recycle TVs, so company workers just chose not to take them. Instead, Warren recommends donating TVs to thrift stores or charities.

Also, if people wish to get rid of their old computers, they shouldn’t leave those at the landfill because information can still be pulled off computers’ hard drives.

Hard drives should be taken to the Technical Knockout facility to be crushed. Warren said it takes a special machine to effectively destroy a hard drive because of how tough they are.

“A hard drive is very thick and heavy, and you have to have the weight of the machine to crush it,” she said.

Warren said it’s essential to recycle electronic devices because they have so much potential to damage the environment if they’re not disposed of properly. Such devices contain substances such as mercury, lead, arsenic and cadmium — all of which are harmful to humans.

“There are very harmful metals and chemicals that would leak out into the ground from any electronics. Then it gets into the streams or waterways,” she said. “This is really to save our earth.”

To get involved in electronic recycling, call Warren at 451-0180.