Dumping Itrash

Local Solutions For The World's E-Waste Problem

Laura Marrich
5 min read
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Fast Heart Mart made quite a few stops while touring the United States this summer but, except for the odd bathroom break, none of them were at a gas station. The Albuquerque band has put more than 4,000 miles on a van that requires no petroleum. Its only fuel source is recycled vegetable oil.

Theirs is an extreme example of musical environmentalism, but Fast Heart Mart isn’t alone. Neil Young and Willie Nelson have both jumped on the biofuel bus. Other groups, like Minneapolis’ Cloud Cult, are quietly buying "green energy credits" to counteract the total environmental impact of touring, from CO
2 created by air travel to energy used to light the stages they play.

Terrific. But what about you? You’re an audiophile (you’re reading the music section of an alternative weekly, aren’t you?). You probably don’t feel good about leaving the planet worse off than you found it. Maybe you’d like to help, but … how?

Here’s a better question: Got a broken mp3 player?

When you toss chip- and rechargeable battery-harboring electronics into the trash, you’re illegally dumping toxic materials in our landfills. (A single cell phone contains enough hazardous gunk to contaminate 40,000 gallons of drinking water.)

According to the EPA, electronic waste accounts for less than 4 percent of all solid waste created in the United States. What’s really alarming is how fast it’s growing—at least two to three times faster than any other waste stream we produce. Multiply the escalating numbers of new personal computing devices that are released or rendered obsolete each month by a few decades, and we’ve got a massive problem. It’s beginning to dawn on us that the paperless revolution isn’t impact-less.

At the same time, "e-cycling"—electronics waste recycling—is entering the lexicon of environmental buzzwords. When placed in the right hands, your old mp3 player can be stripped down and reprocessed in a way that actually does humans some good, from artwork to refurbished classroom equipment. And e-cycling is available right here in New Mexico, right now. Here’s where to find it.

Apple Store Abq Uptown

Still-working Apple product parts are applied toward refurbishing other devices. Batteries are removed and sent to battery recycling specialists. Anything that’s unusable will be disposed of in an environmentally sound way. You’ll be asked to fill out some forms, but you’ll get a 10 percent discount toward your next Apple purchase.


Bring in your device and they’ll ship the rechargeable batteries to a processing plant in Pennsylvania, free of charge.

City Of Albuquerque

The city hosts a yearly e-waste drop-off drive for businesses and residents at Balloon Fiesta Park. Materials are shipped to Natural Evolution, Inc. in Oklahoma for processing. The last event was in August—keep watching the city website for an announcement of the 2008 dates.

Computer Reruns

The Computer Reruns program, administered by New Mexico Technet in partnership with Intel, reconditions and donates computer equipment to schools and nonprofit organizations in New Mexico. Though primarily a computer drop off, it also takes "everything but television sets and appliances." Materials that can’t be reused are sent to Natural Evolution, Inc. for environmentally sound disposal.

Enchantment Electronic Recycling

The oldest and largest electronics e-cycler in New Mexico, Enchantment Electronic Recycling can recycle "almost anything with a plug or batteries," in all quantities. A huge list of devices can be broken down and reused. Non-reusable parts are sent to a refinery where it’s melted for usable metal.

Santa Fe Solid Waste Management Agency

For industrial-strength e-cycling, the City of Santa Fe will process your electronic trash for a fee of $35 per ton.
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