The Black Hawk County Solid Waste Management Commission promotes the proper recycling of electric and electronic items by Black Hawk County residents. If disposed improperly, they pose a potential threat to human health and the environment.
Electronics that are broken or no longer wanted are often referred to as “e-waste”. Millions of TVs, computers, cell phones, game systems, and other electronics become obsolete every year. Many of these electric and battery operated items contain heavy metals and other hazards. According to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, “E-waste accounts for 40 percent of the lead and 75 percent of the heavy metals found in landfills”. These materials can be harmful to the environment and human health when not properly managed at the end of their product life.
Product Stewardship and Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)
Before purchasing electronics, check with that manufacturer or retailer about their Corporate Product Stewardship or Extended Producer Responsibility Policies. Does their corporation offer a program to take back unused, unwanted, or out of date items for recycling?
Repair, Refurbish or Upgrade
Determine if a new product is really necessary. If the equipment is still in working condition, consider upgrading the software, buying new memory, repairing or replacing certain parts to save money and to avoid creating unnecessary waste.
- Online repair guides, such as ifixit.com, contain step-by-step guides for fixing almost everything.
Donation and Reuse
Charities, schools, & non-profit organizations can benefit from the donation of newer used electronics. Prior to donating, make arrangements with the intended recipient, make sure all equipment is in working order, and remove any personal files stored on the computer system.
- Stuff, Etc. accepts some electronics. Contact their store for details.
- Goodwill of Northeast Iowa (only at the 2640 Falls Ave., Waterloo location) collects computer donations that are not suitable for resale and recycles them through their Dell Reconnect partnership.
Several major computer manufacturers – such as Apple, HP, Dell, and others – have recycling programs, trade in programs, and more for your old electronics.
Nationwide Retailer Recycling Programs
Some local retailers collect electronics, ink cartridges, cell phones, and many other items for recycling. Many offer in-store recycling programs, trade-in options, rewards programs, and other options.
- Best Buy in Waterloo (319-833-9261) collects a wide variety of e-waste.
Please note: Best Buy’s corporate recycling policies have recently changed.
- Staples offers recycling for ink and toner cartridges, as well as electronics.
- Most Target stores offer in-store recycling for small electronics.
- Cell phones and battery recycling locations can be searched (by zip code) through Call2Recyle.
- U.S. EPA also maintains a list of device manufacturers and retailers and their recycling policies.
Other Local Recycling Options
Electronic recyclers take apart items to recover usable parts, remove hazardous components, and market the metals, plastic, and glass. This reduces the volume and toxicity of waste going to Iowa landfills – saving energy and conserving natural resources.
- The Cedar Falls Transfer Station accepts electronics for recycling for a fee and safely recycles them through Midwest Electronic Recovery in Walford, Iowa.
- A-Line Iron and Metals is certified to accept electronic materials for recycling.
Spring & Fall Drop-off Events for Household Toxins and Electronics
Twice per year, the Black Hawk County Solid Waste Management Commission subsidizes household toxic materials and electronics recycling drop-off events. BOTH events are open to ALL Black Hawk County residents to get rid of approved items from their homes and garages.
The proper disposal of chemicals and recycling of all electric/electronic items collected during these events are paid for by the Black Hawk County Solid Waste Management Commission, although some fees may apply for certain electronic items.
- The Spring Drop-off Event is hosted at a City of Waterloo site.
- The Fall Drop-off Event is hosted at a City of Cedar Falls site.
- During each of the 5 hour long events, the Commission recruits volunteers to assist with unloading materials from 600-1,000 vehicles!