COLUMBIA — People dropped off unwanted computer monitors, keyboards and TVs at Mid-Mo Recycling's e-recycle event Saturday morning. By 9:45 a.m., eight bins, each holding approximately 700 pounds, were full.
The event, held at Home Depot at 3215 Clark Lane, opened at 9 a.m. and closed at 1 p.m. By 1 p.m., Mid-Mo Recycling owner Stan Fredrick estimated he had collected about 37,000 pounds.
The annual event usually collects between 34,000 to 40,000 pounds of used electronics. Ninety-nine percent of that will be recycled, Fredrick said.
People can drop off many electronics for free, he said, because Mid-Mo Recycling can "de-manufacture" the items and resell their valuable metals, such as gold, copper and aluminum.
Individuals must pay to get rid of their TVs and computer monitors because the glass screens contain lead. These items are sent to a smelter in Herculaneum to extract the toxic metal for reuse in other items, such as car batteries, Fredrick said.
Staff at Mid-Mo Recycling de-manufactures other electronics at Fredrick's center at 6104 Brown Station Road. Items that can't be processed safely or efficiently at his center remain in Missouri, Fredrick said.
Mary Ridge of Sturgeon paid $20 to drop off "the works," a closet-full of electronics she had been collecting for 20 years. She said she appreciated knowing that her old electronics would be recycled in a safe manner.
"We live in the county where those things would end up in the dump," she said.
She also expressed relief that Mid-Mo Recycling recycles locally.
"I'm real pleased it won't be sent to China where peasants would pick over it," she said.
Ridge was referring to toxic trading, a practice of shipping hazardous waste from wealthy nations to developing countries. There, the refuse can be recycled cheaply, but at a human and environmental cost.
Mid-Mo Recycling is a level one recycling center and registered with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Fredrick said. A level one recycling center agrees to recycle as much electronic material as possible.