FORT LEWIS, Wash. - If you're tired of using that bulky computer monitor as a doorstop or that outdated laptop as an oversized paper weight, the Fort Lewis Recycle Center might have the perfect solution for you.

It's called "E-Cycling" - the recycling of electronic items - and it's under way at the center in Building 5290 behind the commissary off Nevada Avenue.

Anyone who has tried to dispose of electronic equipment knows that it can be a hassle. The few places that accept it often charge considerable fees, so the high-tech refuse usually winds up collecting dust in one's home or office.

"A lot of people have this stuff sitting around, like in their garages, and a lot of times, it's very expensive to get rid of," said Ron Norton, Fort Lewis Solid Waste and Recycling Program manager.

As of Jan. 2, Fort Lewis ID cardholders, at no charge, may drop off their unwanted computer equipment and television sets at the Recycle Center, which is a Washington State Department of Ecology-approved collection site.

"The nice thing about this is, anybody that has access to Fort Lewis can utilize our program," said Gary Groves, director of military resources for LeMay, Inc., the contractor that oversees the program. "There have been people in here every day ... bringing materials in. And I think once the word gets out, it'll make us even busier, which would make us really happy.

"Just bring it in. Whenever we're open, we can accept."

Groves noted that people need only sign a form, drop off the electronic equipment and be done. Not only would they dispose of the devices, they would help the environment by keeping such toxic materials as lead, cadmium and mercury out of dump sites.

"This provides a good, free alternative," Norton said. "Now we have a good outlet for these things. We're really going to start seeing it pick up, I think, here in the near future.

"I think there's 200 (electronics) collection points that are approved in the state, and we're one of them. We're doing all the right things at Fort Lewis."

"We really want to keep these things out of the landfill," Groves said.

Another benefit is the recovery of such valuable materials as glass, plastic and metal.

"The whole concept of electronics recycling has really just (taken off) as of this year," Norton said. "They'll take these things, they'll take them apart, and they'll go for the components."

As an example, Groves pointed out that such plastic items as keyboards "are ground up and they're used in various materials like the new plastic siding and the decking and stuff like that."

As in the past, unwanted but functioning electronic devices should be donated to the Fort Lewis Thrift Shop.

"If the Thrift Shop accepts it and can't use it, it ends up here, anyway," Groves said. "So it's win-win."

The Recycle Center, open 7:30 a.m.-4 p.m., Mondays through Saturdays, can be reached at 381-5169.

Bob Reinert is a reporter with Fort Lewis' Northwest Guardian.

Page last updated Fri January 16th, 2009 at 16:20