Orange Grove beefs up electronics program

Mike Duke turns the screwdriver over in his hand and quickly takes out screws.

The computer tower he works on easily could have wound up in the city's Birchwood landfill. But instead, it will be taken apart and shipped to Clinton, Tenn., where it will be broken down further and sold as valuable parts.

"I like it," said Mr. Duke, a client of Orange Grove Center. "It's good."

Orange Grove Center has beefed up its electronics recycling program in the last few months in an attempt to make sure the computers and cell phones it takes in are recycled to the bare bones, said Tera Roberts, the center's director of adult services.

"We want to provide any incentive we can for recycling," Ms. Roberts said.

Six months ago, Orange Grove Center, which provides jobs for mentally handicapped adults known as clients, started working with Wisconsin-based 5R Processors, Ltd., for electronic recycling.

Clients at Orange Grove Center break down the computers to the smallest components, then ship the parts to a facility in Clinton that 5R Processors owns.

At that point, the recycling company strips the electronic parts to the bare-bone essentials -- steel, copper, gold, plastic -- and sells the materials to be reused, said Don McFarland, a principal for the company.

Mr. McFarland said none of the computer parts goes to waste, and every single item is reused.

Some states have started banning such materials from their landfills. Just a few years ago, several news reports focused on Guiyu, China, as the largest E-waste dump in the world with computers and monitors piled head high.

It's that kind of image that 5R Processors wants to prevent here, Mr. McFarland said.

ELECTRONIC RECYCLINGThe following electronic items can be taken to any city or Hamilton County recycling convenience center or to the Orange Grove Center campus:* Computers* Printers* Copiers* Cell phonesSource: Orange Grove Center

"We're a company that draws a line in the sand and says, 'Not in our country you're going to dump this,'" he said.

Ms. Roberts said the old electronics can be dropped off at any city or county recycling convenience center or at the Orange Grove Center campus on Arlington Avenue.

Monitors can be dropped only at the center, and there is a $10 charge to do so, she said.

Another client, Margaret Murphy, spent Wednesday separating computer wires from the towers and putting them in boxes. Ms. Murphy said she liked the environmental aspect of the work.

"It's helping all of us," she said.

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