For this week’s Field Trip Friday, we have a guest post from architectural desginer Eric Ball who takes us into one of the processing facilities of WeRecycle! a regional company whose programs focus on the ethical recycling and management of electronic waste.

On an early August morning Lauren Dykes from WeRecycle! welcomed me into their largest facility in the Bronx for a thorough factory floor tour led by Youness Khouraibchia.

Since April 1, 2011 New York State has required manufacturers to take back used electronics for recycling. By 2015 it will be illegal for consumers to dispose of electronics any other way.

WeRecycle! has been refining this local process that returns life to our cyclical piles of outdated cell phones, monitors, tvs, and printers; keeping them out of our drawers, landfills, groundwater, and cargo ships that frequently deliver these toxic materials to cheaper labor.

Outfitted in metal-toed shoes, reflective yellow vest, hard hat, & ear plugs, I entered the factory floor of 15 people tending to the organized sequences of conveyor belts that return an old monitor back to its separate, valuable parts (circuit boards, plastic, aluminum, metal, & steel) in order to be sold.

PROCESS

WeRecycle! collects used electronics from: OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers), businesses, consumers (mostly CRTS and Monitors), and asset managers (server racks)

The remaining data within the used electronics are destroyed, and printer cartridges and hazardous components are removed. Everything is dropped into a shredder, which crushes everything between two steel notched rolling pins. What remains is then separated by a giant magnet into ferrous (contains iron) and non ferrous metals.

Non ferrous metals are further refined by hammermills and magnets. Ferrous metals travel over a screen capturing smaller pieces below. The larger pieces move onto a magnetic field causing various degrees of reaction to identify iron and aluminum. The remainder then travels down a sensored conveyor belt which can identify and separate any remaining heavy metal.

This option is available for FREE to all consumers and businesses with fewer than 50 employees and non-profit organizations with fewer than 75.

The Lower East Side Ecology Center also now has a permanent collection center at 469 President Street in Brooklyn. To find out where to recycle your electronics near you, visit go recycle’s website http://www.werecycle.com/

 

Thanks Lauren and Youness for this fascinating look behind the scenes, and to much success continuing to innovate this important, growing industry!

 

OHNY also thanks Eric for sharing his experience at WeRecycle! If you are interested in writing about one of your adventures to a unique space in New York City and having OHNY feature it as a Field Trip Friday post, please contact Jailee Rychen at jailee@ohny.org.

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