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The county's electronics recycling program, which features a collection on the third Saturday of each month at the Stackpole Complex in St. Marys, recently surpassed the million-pound mark for the amount of material that has been collected.
The program will have been in place for seven years in June, according to Elk County Recycling Coordinator Bekki Titchner.
"We actually thought when we started [the program seven years ago,] if we fill up a tractor trailer a year [of electronics] that we would be doing well. What it's actually morphed into is filling up a tractor trailer every four to six weeks," Titchner said. "A tractor trailer, typically a load that we give them, is between 14,000 and 17,000 pounds, and of that, which is really the amazing part, is typically under 200 pounds is actually considered garbage and the rest is recyclable."
Titchner explained that she first became interested in starting an electronics recycling program back in 2003 after reading information published by an environmental group regarding electronics being dumped in China.
"We talked about it with the [Elk County Solid Waste] Authority Board and they thought that we could hold a one-day collection for electronics. At that time, in the fall of 2003, there were really very few programs in the state that dealt with electronics on a regular basis," Titchner said.
The initial one-day collection was held in the parking lot of Keystone Powered Metal in October of that year.
"We were really surprised at the amount of electronics that we got from people, so after that collection we started a discussion at the authority level about whether this could be something that should be more permanent," Titchner said. "At the same time, we were discussing it with DEP about whether we could get approval to do an ongoing collection."
After deciding to move forward, the group approached the North Central Regional Planning and Development Commission regarding leasing one of the buildings they owned within the Stackpole Complex.
"The space, for North Central, was one that they didn't think they would ever be able to lease out to manufacturing because of its location to other manufacturing firms, so it was a location that would just be empty, they thought," Titchner said. "It seemed to suit us really well."
Over the years the group has received grants from the Stackpole Hall Foundation to perform various upgrades to the facility, including the installation of automatic doors and the widening of one of the door frames.
"They seem like little things, but when you're working with it on a regular basis, the outside door was too narrow to bring in all the gaylord boxes, so we had to actually offload them by hand every time we got a load. So making the door two feet wider was perfect," Titchner said.
The first electronics collection held at the program's current location was in June 2004, and Titchner noted that the monthly event began to average between 40 and 50 cars per collection. As the program has continued to grow over the years, it has now come to average over 100 vehicles dropping off electronic items each month.
The item that the Titchner sees the most of is, by far, televisions.
"I think that once flat-screens became really affordable for most people that we started seeing an overwhelming amount of older televisions," Titchner said.