Green Citizen is an electronics recycling and repair company with four locations in the San Francisco Bay Area. They have been taking electronic waste since 2005 and have had over 100,000 customers. Below is an interview with their San Francisco Manager Kevin Landers.
Do you take all kinds of electronics, such as phones, radios, mobile devices and keyboards, along with desktops and laptops?
We accept anything that runs on electricity at all.
What are the main harmful chemicals within electronics?
Toxic materials in computer components include:
Lead and cadmium in computer circuit boards
Lead oxide and barium in computer monitors’ cathode ray tubes
Mercury in switches and flat screens and
Brominated flame retardants on printed circuit boards, cables and plastic casing.
Is your collection service free?
Yes. Drop off is free at our centers, as well as business pick-up (minimum of 10 qualified items).
What portion of the items you receive can you refurbish and sell?
While we are constantly maximizing and improving the amount of material that can be diverted from the recycling stream, up to 25 percent of material by weight has redistribution potential.
Is most of the e-waste in the United States being shipped overseas currently?
By recent estimates, over 80% is exported.
How much of the electronics locally are you collecting?
All material we collect is processed within 150 miles of San Francisco, and we do not ship reuseable material outside the U.S.
Will you expand to other cities, and if so, which ones?
As we refine our operational model it becomes more and more replicable – we are in the process of completing our Bay Area Pilot.
How much of e-waste in the U.S. is currently recycled or collected in a responsible sustainable way?
An average of 220 tons of electronic waste is dumped in landfills and incinerators every year in the US alone. These toxic items constitute as much as 2-5% of the US municipal solid waste stream and continues to grow rapidly. These toxic items constitute as much as 2-5% of the US municipal solid waste stream and continues to grow rapidly.
Which electronics contain the most harmful chemicals, such as heavy metals?
Cathode ray tube (CRT) monitors and Televisions, and LCD/Plasma displays.
Image Credit: Thousandways, Wiki Commons