‘Tis the season for pummeled Styrofoam mercilessly ripped form boxes, and discarded electronic devices making way for the latest cell phones and laptops, courtesy of St. Nick.
By Ann Powers
“We all know that at Christmas time we get a lot of new electronics under the tree,” David McCall, Tillamook County Solid Waste Program Manager, said. “A lot of those electronics and different things are packaged in Styrofoam.”
Those digital-era gifts risk serious detriment to the environment due to their packaging and market-driven short shelf before they become “obsolete.”
At their recent regular meeting, Tillamook County Commissioners unanimously proclaimed Jan. 7, as E-Waste and Styrofoam Collection Day.
County residents can bring Styrofoam and old electronic devices to the Manzanita, Tillamook and Pacific City transfer stations, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., for recycling.
McCall said the department will be using its newly acquired densifier to process the Styrofoam.
“Last week we put that into use and densified our first 15 cubic yards of Styrofoam,” he told the commission. “It went very well. ”
He also outlined the downside of not recycling:
- Each year, the United States disposes of more than 384 million units of e-waste, which is approximately 3.14 million tons. According to the Electronics Takeback Coalition, the percentage of e-waste that our nation recycles has increased from only 10 percent in 2000 to 40 percent in 2013 (by weight).
- The United States produces more than 1.8 billion pounds of Styrofoam each year. Americans use an estimated 25 billion Styrofoam cups each year. Styrofoam is not biodegradable and consumes much space. Even though Styrofoam represents only about one percent of the waste stream, it is estimated that Styrofoam could take up as much as 30 percent of landfills worldwide.
And the upside:
- For every million cell phones recycled, 35,000 pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold, and 33 pounds of palladium can be recovered, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
- The recycling of Styrofoam not only saves landfill space, but also reduces the need to harvest crude oil from the earth and all of the energy associated with the process required to make virgin resin.
The Senior SAFE groups of Neah-Kah-Nie, Nestucca and Tillamook High Schools host the annual collection. All recycling proceeds benefit SAFE activities. Last year, a total of 34,156 pounds of e-waste alone was collected, translating to $2,049.36 in contributions, according to reports.
Commissioner Bill Baertlein commended McCall on bringing the recycling program to the forefront.
“This is changing the Tillamook way,” he said. “Let’s just say this is the new Tillamook way is the recycling. So I’m really pleased where you’ve gone with the direction of this program.”
The most commonly accepted materials include CPUs, keyboards, laptops/tablets, computer mice, monitors, printers, scanners and TVs. Organizers said other items may be accepted at staff discretion.
In addition, Styrofoam must be the white, bulky packaging kind and clean. No peanut or food trays will be accepted.
Other unacceptable items include contaminated medical equipment, dehumidifiers, exit signs, fire alarms, devices containing mercury, smoke detectors, x-ray devices, any material containing PCBs and any unit with liquids or sludge.
The transfer stations are located at:
- Manzanita Transfer Station (CARTM), supporting Neah‐Kah‐Nie SAFE, 34995 Necarney Rd.
- Pacific City Transfer Station, supporting Nestucca Valley SAFE, 38255 Brooten Rd.
- Tillamook Transfer Station, supporting Tillamook SAFE 1315, Ekloff Rd.
For more information visit Tillamook County’s Solid Waste website at www.co.tillamook.or.us/gov/SolidWaste or call 503-815-3975.