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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Free e-waste program ends Friday on Big Island

By Peter Sur
Tribune-Herald Staff Writer

HILO Residents have until Friday to turn in their obsolete televisions, computers and other electronic waste without charge to the drop sites in Kona and in Hilo.

The $575,400 contract with Bay Side Computer Shop, which operates both locations, is ending, and the county has no money to continue it in the near future.

"The current system that we have, which is the year-round drop off sites -- we can no longer afford to keep that going," said Chris Chin-Chance of the Department of Environmental Management, Recycling Section. The e-waste contract originally expired at the end of December, causing recycled e-waste to pile up in storerooms on the island, the county said.

Then, the contract was extended from March 5 through April 30.

After that date, residents, businesses, government agencies and nonprofit groups are being urged to send their e-waste to a reputable recycling company. Several are listed on the Department of Environmental Management's website.

In lieu of the contracted drop-off points, the county will be implementing an annual e-waste collection event on both sides of the Big Island; dates have not been announced.

"We are still looking for funding," Chin-Chance said.

The drop-off point until Friday for West Hawaii is Compucycle Kona at 73-5580 Maiau St., Kailua-Kona, in the Kaloko Business Center. Call 326-9695 to schedule a drop-off.

In Hilo, the drop-off is the Bay Side Computer warehouse at 55 Kukuau St. in Hilo. Call 934-7748 to schedule a drop-off.

During the 2008-2009 fiscal year, the recycling program collected 333,000 tons of e-waste, or about 1.9 tons per Big Island resident.

From July 2009 through March 2010, the program collected 260 tons, Chin-Chance said. E-waste that is collected is shipped to California for further processing and recycling. The drop-off is free to residents; businesses and other organizations are charged a per-pound disposal fee.

After Friday, the price of unloading e-waste at the two drop sites is going way up. For residents, miscellaneous electronics, including stereos, CDs and VCRs will be accepted for $7. Computer towers and laptops will be accepted for $10 each (hard drive wiping will cost an extra $5), and printers will be accepted for $5 to $10, depending on size. The fees for nonresidential customers were not immediately known.

Cathode-ray computer screens will be accepted for $10 to $15, and televisions will be accepted for $25 or $50. The recycling center in California charges per pound, said Bay Side Computer technician Jessiah Beem, who said his company is working to reduce the costs of shipping and processing.

County-operated transfer stations do not accept electronic waste, which pose an environmental hazard, and violators may be subject to fines up to $500 or a minimum of 20 hours of public service.

The other alternative, Chin-Chance said, is the state's Hawaii Electronic Device Recycling Program. Under a law that became effective at the start of this year, the state Department of Health required that manufacturers of electronic devices establish take-back recycling programs for certain kinds of e-waste. Depending on the manufacturer, consumers will have the option to recycle their devices either through drop-off collection sites or through mail-back plans. This option applies only to what are called "Covered Electronic Devices"; items that are not covered by a manufacturer's guarantee must be taken to the Bay Side Computer drop sites or held until the day the county schedules an e-waste collection.

For more information on this program, contact the Department of Health, Solid and Hazardous Waste Branch, at 808-974-64226. To reach the Hawaii County Recycling Section, call 961-8554 or 961-8942.