Recycling of computers up more than one-fourth

The Associated Press /

EUGENE — The county that’s home to the University of Oregon is a front-runner in recycling old computers and other electronic devices.

Despite housing less than 10 percent of the state’s population, Lane County accounted for nearly 4 million of the 27.7 million pounds collected statewide last year in the Oregon Electronics Recycling Program known as Oregon E-Cycles. The county total was up 27 percent from 2012, compared with a 4 percent increase statewide, according to state Department of Environmental Quality figures released this week.

“Lane County citizens are really resourceful and have an ethic toward reuse,” Lane County waste reduction specialist Sarah Grimm said. She says the county also has an aggressive public relations program.

Since the program’s start, Oregon E-Cycles has collected 123.5 million pounds of electronics for recycling and 158,335 units for reuse. By DEQ estimates, that translates into greenhouse gas reductions of about 141,500 metric tons of carbon dioxide — comparable to the benefit of eliminating tailpipe emissions from more than 30,000 passenger cars for one year.

Statewide, there are now more than 300 official Oregon E-Cycle collection locations — an increase of more than 37 percent compared to when the program first got underway in 2009. There are more than a dozen such sites in the Eugene-Springfield metropolitan area.

Michelle Martin, a materials management specialist with the DEQ, said the collection locations have been added to provide more convenience.

She said the state is eager to expand the program in January, when it will also start accepting printers and other computer equipment such as keyboards and mice.

Despite the strong showing in Lane County, Grimm said she still meets people who are unaware that computers and other electronic devices are banned from state landfills.

“It’s important that people understand that banned items really should feed into our economic development” by being dropped off at sites where they can be recycled or reused, she said.