Green eyes look at recycling your computers & gadgets: eCycling

Take the Household Electronics and Chemical Collection Center (HEC3) on 110th Avenue North in St. Petersburg. According to Josh Lynch, utilities chemist for the HEC3, the center accepts cell phones, VCRs, DVD players, TVs, computer monitors and hard drives. They’ll also take microwaves, printers, external hard drives and power supplies. Some items can be taken to the center’s Swap Shop, where people can buy these old, used components and Frankenstein together their own units, while other parts are sent to the grinder.

Or -- if you happen to live north of the bridge -- Hillsborough County holds household chemical and electronic collections on select Saturdays. On the first Saturday of the month, there’s one on Sheldon Road between Linebaugh and Waters. On the second Saturday, the county collects at the South County Facility at U.S. Highway 41 South and Powell Road. And, on the third Saturday, collections are held at the East County Facility on County Road 579, near Exit 10 on I-4. At these collection spots, the county recycles some pretty epic stuff like CFLs, computer parts, copiers, laptops, stereos, toasters, TVs, VCRs, DVD players, batteries, propane tanks, paint, ammunition and explosives. Yep, you read those last two correctly.

There’s ViaTek Solutions, located on Knox Street in Tampa. According to Senior VP of Business Development Misty Malec, ViaTek started doing electronic-parts recycling back in 1994 for businesses, but now they get quite a bit of work from residents. They’ll take your monitors, circuit boards, keyboards, TVs, cash registers, laptops, fax machines and batteries. They’ll also take printers, cell phones, typewriters, VCRs and speakers off your hands. Quicksilver Recycling Services on Rome Avenue in Tampa can also take your electronic bits, from TVs and monitors to batteries and old fax machines.

Even your local Best Buy or Staples recycles items. At Best Buy, you can lug in computers, DVD players, and other electronics, mostly for free. They will charge $10 for CRT monitors, laptops, and TVs 32 inches and under -- but they’ll offset that charge with a $10 gift card.

A call to a Staples on U.S. Highway 19 in Clearwater helped me get their details. Staples will charge you $10 to recycle your old CRT and LCD monitors, as well as computer towers. Cell phones, PDAs and chargers can be dropped in a recycle box for free. Computer components like keyboards, mice and speakers are also free to recycle. And if you bring in your ink and toner cartridges, you can get $3 in Staples Rewards for each eligible cartridge.

You may be asking yourself: “Why do I have to pay to recycle something?” Well, the answer is these stores have to pay a company to pick up these large recyclables, and they have to somehow offset their costs of providing this social service for the public. You may think you could spend your $10 on something else -- like 10 items on a fast-food dollar menu --but when it comes to knowing that your electronics are being disposed of safely, $10 just might be worth the cost of a clear conscience and a quick trip.

In the end, you have too many options to not find a way to easily recycle your electronics. Check Web sites like for other locations near you. Now hop to it!

People know all about recycling everyday items, right? Glass bottles, aluminum cans, newspaper, steel cans (where accepted), plastic bottles — these are pretty simple things to keep track of. How about those items you use every day but don’t really think about chucking until they’re dead? Television sets, DVD players and computers are all items we pretty much use on a daily basis, but when they stop working or you’re hankering for an upgrade, what should you do with them?

No matter what, do not throw them in the regular trash. Many of those circuit boards probably have lead or cadmium on them. (Sure, it could be zinc, copper, or something else less nasty, but do you really want to risk it?) When such elements aren’t disposed of properly or reused in a safe way, they can leach into the ground and cause all sorts of problems to the soil and water table. When life depends on water and a clean aquifer, this resonates with everyone who lives in Florida.

But fear not, intrepid recyclers! There are spots throughout the Tampa Bay area just itching to take in your old electronics, grind them up into their separate components, and redistribute the metals and chemicals as they can:

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