by Suzanne Michaels
For the past seven years, electronics recycling in mid-November has been a popular event in Las Cruces; but in 2016, it will not happen.
Since 2009, the South Central Solid Waste Authority has partnered with UNICOR Federal Prison Industries in Tucson to recycle electronics. In June, the federal government cut funding to the UNICOR program. Therefore, the SCSWA will no longer accept electronics for free recycling at the transfer station or any of the county collection centers.
“Over the past seven years we recycled 885 tons of electronics from Las Cruces residents by working with UNICOR,” said Patrick Peck, director of the SCSWA. “This summer, the program was shut down.”
The SCSWA had turned to an Albuquerque-based company, Natural Evolution, to recycle electronics and shipped three semi-truckloads of electronics before the Albuquerque facility was shut down.
“The closest resource we know of now to accept electronics (televisions and computers only) for recycling is in Tulsa, Oklahoma,” Peck said. “But there is the hauling cost plus a per item cost to recycle TVs and CRTs (cathode ray tubes) that makes it impossible for us. We are out of options to accept electronics for free recycling, anymore.”
Residents can still bring their e-scrap to the SCSWA but CRT monitors and screens will not be recycled; they will be landfilled, Peck said.
“Other e-Scrap will be either recycled or landfilled depending on the market. We have to impose a $5 dollar minimum fee to dispose of the items or handle them (stack and store) depending if we can move the computers/ laptops to a market for recycling.”
Peck said he hopes an electronics recycling solution is found.
“This was a very popular event, and kept electronics out of our landfill and kept them from being dumped illegally in the desert,” he said. “We will continue to search for viable solutions for electronic recycling — but certainly for now, there is no more free recycling of electronics.”
South Central Solid Waste Authority manages solid waste, recyclables and battles illegal dumping for residents and businesses of the City of Las Cruces and Doña Ana County. You can contact the SCSWA at 575-528-3800.