Kokua Line

By June Watanabe

City’s computer waste
gets recycled

Question: The city held a computer recycling day on Oct. 26 in the CompUSA parking lot and collected old equipment from the public. Judging from when we dropped our old PC off, they got a lot of stuff. How much did they collect? What was done with all of it? Do they plan to do it again, and if so, when?

Answer: The first computer recycling day generated an "overwhelming response" -- about 1,900 pieces of equipment, said Suzanne Jones, the city's recycling coordinator.

The city teamed up with CompUSA, the Hawaii Computers for Kids program and the state Department of Education to collect unwanted computers and equipment for possible reuse and recycling.

Unfortunately, a lot ended up in the trash heap.

Jones explained that the "computers, equipment and peripherals that came in" were either channeled to schools for reuse, recycled for scrap value by Island Recycling or were deemed unsuitable for either and "we properly disposed of them."

Of the 1,900 pieces of equipment brought in, 200 were recycled for their scrap value, while 500 monitors, printers, CPUs (central processing units), etc. were given to schools.

But it became obvious that people had been holding on to their equipment for too long.

By the time they found an outlet in the recycling day, "that equipment had become too old, too small, too slow," Jones said. "A lot of that that was still working wasn't good enough to go to the schools."

She encouraged businesses, especially, "to get that computer equipment donated to the schools quicker -- not to hold on to things too long." She suggested individuals and businesses make donations directly to the Hawaii Computers for Kids Program (call 521-2259).

Another computer recycling day hasn't yet been scheduled, with officials using the first event as a learning experience.

Beyond finding out that much of what people have to donate may be outdated and unusable, another, more troubling issue was spotlighted: "We are still concerned about the fact that we have more computers that are headed for disposal than we have recycling options for," Jones said.

And even as many pieces of equipment were headed for the schools, the lingering concern is that eventually that equipment, too, will be discarded.

"We really still lack this ultimate solution to the e-waste problem," Jones said. She believes a solution must come from the electronics industry, which has "to start looking at how they can address the problem and be taking back this equipment so that they can reuse the components into making new computer equipment."


To dog owners who drop their bags of dog poop in other people's trash cans. How can you be so lazy about taking home your refuse and disposing of it in your trash can? Why do you think it's OK to make your neighbors suffer the stench just because you didn't want to take responsibility for your pet? The world is not your personal trash can. -- No Name


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