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TMCNet:  Electronic rebirth

[January 15, 2013]

Electronic rebirth

SEBRING, Jan 15, 2013 (Highlands Today - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- So that old Dell finally gave up the ghost. What to do with a dead computer Highlands County schools calls Mike Floyd, who hands printers, monitors and televisions to the information systems department.

"They strip out all the parts they can reuse," Floyd said. If it can be rebuilt, it goes back into another classroom. Occasionally, an older CPU winds up in a computer science classroom, where students dissect to find out how electronics really work.

"Nothing goes in the trash," Floyd said. "It all gets recycled." What remains goes to Diversified Asset Recovery in Orlando.

DAR has the same zero-waste policy, said Jimmy Quinn, president of sales and biz development. "We always try to get things back in working order." What does work is resold on eBay or other Internet sites.

If a computer can't be resuscitated, though, its hard drive gets wiped according to Department of Defense standards.

Unfixable electronics are broken down into component parts, plastics in one bin, metals in another, electronics in a third.

"There's a lot more gold in old circuit boards," Quinn said. "In the old days, they used a lot more gold and silver." Electronics recycling is a $6 billion dollar market in the U.S., and that's projected to triple by 2015.

Wait until March, and Bob Diefendorf will schedule another electronics recycling day at the Recycling Department, 6000 Skipper Road. That way, e-waste will stay out of Highlands County landfill.

"We separate the chips and the hard drives," said Diefendorf, project manager for the Highlands County commissioners.

Batteries are recovered. Small items like electric razors and digital photo frames go in a bin. What is saved goes to Creative Recycling in Tampa.

"We don't want heavy metals to go in the landfill," Diefendorf said. In the past three years, the county has recycled 92 tons of e-waste.

Be sensible, Diefendorf advised. It may not be environmentally wise to waste a gallon of gas to recycle a baggie of alkaline batteries or a single electric pencil sharpener.

"Sometimes, people drive out here with a few gallons of old, dried up paint could have gone in the garbage. I guess it all comes down to education," Diefendorf said.

But back to that old Dell computer: recycling is a circle of life, death and rebirth. Quinn said metals and plastics are eventually resold to manufacturers, so when you're talking on that new 2015 iPhone, maybe you'll hear a familiar beep.

___ (c)2013 the Highlands Today (Sebring, Fla.) Visit the Highlands Today (Sebring, Fla.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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