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Recycling encouraged for old electronic devices
Hall has many sites that collect outdated cellphones
Electronic equipment fills a bin at the Hall County Recycling Center. - photo by Tom Reed

"Out with the old, in with the new" takes on another meaning this time of year as Americans with freshly unwrapped electronic gadgets try to figure out what to do with their outdated ones.

Rather than simply tossing them out with the trash, environmental advocates are encouraging consumers to recycle those old cellphones, TVs and computers.

They argue reusing electronics not only saves on landfill space, but on resources and energy use.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency's website, recycling 1 million cellphones saves enough energy to power more than 185 U.S. households with electricity for a year.

"Cellphones and PDAs (personal digital assistants) are made of precious metals, copper and plastics — all of which require energy to mine and manufacture," the EPA's website states. "Recycling conserves these materials so they can be turned into new products."

With businesses and local utilities providers expanding their recycling efforts, it's becoming easier to find ways to recycle old electronic devices.

Hall County's recycling center, at 1008 Chestnut St. SE in Gainesville, accepts a range of electronic devices including computers, VCRs and microwaves.

Rick Foote, the county's natural resource coordinator, said while the county doesn't track holiday influx of recycled electronic devices, he expects it to increase at this time of year.

"When people get their new stuff," he said, "they probably get rid of their old stuff."

Computers are easily the most commonly recycled electronic, Foote said. However, the county recycling center doesn't accept all commonly recyclable electronic items, including cellphones and TVs.

Foote explained the county can't take cellphones because inmates provide labor at the recycling center.

"Inmates and cellphones don't mix," Foote said, alluding to security risks.

Otherwise, phones are one of the easiest electronic items to recycle.

In addition to charitable organizations that accept cellphones and groups that specifically collect old phones for soldiers, most phone service providers and many electronic stores now accept old phones for recycling.

Keep Hall Beautiful also offers to recycle used cellphones; call 770-531-1102 for information about that service.

For larger items, electronic superstore Best Buy has also expanded its efforts to accept used electronics at no charge.

So far, the local Best Buy is one of the few locations in Hall County that takes in some types of old TVs at no charge for recycling.

When all else fails, Foote said, another way to keep used but still usable electronic devices in service is to donate them to charitable organizations that resell the items.


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