From: Mark Fagan, Journal-World
Published June 3, 2005 12:00 AM

Business Aims to Eliminate E-Waste

Computer Waste Solutions Co. is working to convince area businesses, organizations and individuals to pay a little extra for disposing of their discarded computer monitors, TV screens and other so-called "e-waste."


Computer Waste Solutions Co. recently opened its downtown storefront, offering to take old computers off people's hands and keep them out of the traditional trash stream. The company reconditions usable computers for reuse by nonprofit organizations.


But damaged, outdated and unusable equipment is broken down into its components, with copper wire and steel being sold as scrap, high-speed memory chips resold to computer companies and motherboards, batteries and cathode ray tubes -- with their pressurized leaded glass -- sealed and loaded up for delivery to specialized recyclers.


Computer Waste Solutions is one of about a half-dozen such businesses in Kansas, each working to cover their costs and perhaps make a little money while keeping lead and other heavy metals out of the waste stream.


"Landfills are great places, but they're places where e-waste doesn't belong," said Marion Lynn, a business representative for the new company, which he describes as a nonprofit computer recycling program.


Such businesses are sure to become more popular in the years ahead, said Bill Bider, director of the Bureau of Waste Management for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.


That's because about 1 million computer monitors and another 1 million televisions are waiting to be thrown away during the next 12 months, he said.


"And that's just in Kansas," he said "We have a major, emerging issue. That's why businesses are springing up. They see an opportunity. It's a very dynamic business right now."


Bider will convene an e-waste stakeholders meeting June 9 in Manhattan to discuss options for a statewide policy. For now, his department is allowing operations such as Computer Waste Solutions to operate as recyclers and not as solid waste processors, which would require a permit and introduce new costs.


Such regulatory flexibility is necessary, he said, because the state benefits by having e-waste diverted from landfills.


Lynn said that he and his fellow business representative, Ben Campbell-Bradley, spent the past couple of years investigating the possibility of opening a recycling operation. They finally settled on a small storefront at 1021 1/4 Mass.


The company is working to land grants and enroll in other financial programs set up by computer and software companies, Lynn said. The operation runs on fees -- $12 to $15 for most monitors -- although nonprofit operations can drop off e-waste for free.


Lynn, who sells antiques, collectibles and old cars online, said Computer Waste Solutions would pay him about $25,000 a year. Campbell-Bradley will get about $35,000.


Lynn plans to hire more people to work part-time, at about $8 or $9 an hour, to help disassemble and package computers and monitors coming in the door.


"We're testing the willingness of the public to do real recycling," Lynn said.


To see more of the Journal-World, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.ljworld.com.


Source: Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News


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