Go Green on Black Friday with Electronics Recycling

recycle center white mac computer
Updated November 2018Computer for electronics recycling on Black Friday

On Thanksgiving, families around the US come together to enjoy company, friends, poultry, and even football. Then the real fun begins the very next day with Black Friday, a shopaholic’s dream. Clothes, toys, gadgets, electronics, and more. But we bet you never thought that this was the perfect time of year for electronics recycling!

Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, was originally given its name in 1966 by the Philadelphia police department. This was from the heavy traffic, congested sidewalks, and the general chaos that followed due to huge jumps in shopping activity. But how can we balance this drive for purchasing with the values of the holidays, like goodwill, community, and charity?

Did you know that electronics are the second most popular purchase on Black Friday? Clearly, many of the electronics that we own before Black Friday will become almost obsolete after purchasing cheaper, newer items. Given that this spike in electronic purchases happens immediately after Thanksgiving, we have an opportunity to show thankfulness for Earth’s resources and for the abundance of commodities at our fingertips through recycling.

Over the years, we’ve all seen the violence and overall disregard for others when shopping on Black Friday. There is a disconnect between celebrating what we have one day, then being gripped by material desires the next. But, we can buy something new the day after Thanksgiving as long as we, as a society, stay true to what this holiday is really about and be grateful for what we have, like the earth.

Although nearly 100% of electronics are recyclable, the actual recycling rate is dismal. On average, only 15-20% of electronics purchased by Americans are recycled. In fact, Americans throw away $60 million of silver and gold every year by not recycling their cell phones, which contain a lot of precious metals. That means we needlessly mine the earth for these materials when there’s plenty sitting around, free for the taking.

In the days following Black Friday and Christmas, let’s try and incorporate electronics recycling into our busy lives. Not only would we be preserving the environment, but we’d also help society as a whole by being consciously thankful for what we have.

For more information about electronics recycling in San Francisco, call us at (650) 493-8700 or visit our Burlingame EcoCenter!

Written By Eddie Garnica

Electronics Recycling: How to Schedule a Pick-Up For Your Business

Electronics Recycling pick-up

Electronics Recycling pick-up

It’s that time of year again. Your company’s computers have slowed to a crawl, the printers have become temperamental, and last year’s iPhone will no longer do. As a San Francisco Bay Area IT or Office manager, you’re tasked with responsibly disposing of this pile of electronics. There are several companies out there that can schedule an electronics recycling pick-up, but whom should you choose and what factors should influence your decision? Below are some points to consider:

  • Is the process to schedule an electronics recycling pick-up easy?
    With GreenCitizen, your business can schedule and electronics recycling pick-up online, give us a call or email pickup@greencitizen.com with your item list. Your electronics recycling pick-up will be scheduled within a week. No need to bring items to the loading dock. We can obtain a certificate of insurance for your building and come directly to your suite with a dolly on wheels. We can pick up just about anything that runs on electricity, but to qualify for a free electronics recycling pick-up you need a combination of at least ten of the following qualifying items: laptops, desktops, monitors, TVs, servers, smartphones and/or tablets.
  • How do you ensure the company you use is not sending items to the landfill or shipping them abroad?
    Investigate the company’s backstory and what people think about their brand. GreenCitizen was a founding member of e-Stewards and was also the first company in the electronics recycling industry to be recognized as a For-Benefit Company by B-Corporation.
  • Is your company looking to recoup revenue from your old systems?
    GreenCitizen specializes in responsible reuse and can offer you a quote prior to scheduling an electronics recycling pickup. Just send along brand and model numbers of the devices, we’ll provide a quote and if acceptable, we’ll pick up for free.
  • What about data?
    GreenCitizen ensures all data from an electronics recycling pick-up is destroyed. Reusable items are wiped according to DoD 5220.22M and non-reusable items shredded. For certified destruction from an electronics recycling pick-up, GreenCitizen will track drives down to serial and model number, individually crush them and issue a time-stamped certificate of destruction. GreenCitizen also offers document shredding, so feel free to add any stored boxes to your pick-up list!

By Jason Dunford. You can email him at jason.dunford@greencitizen.com.

Everything You Need to Know About Appliance Recycling

recycle used residential appliance
Updated November 2018

We all know them, we all use them, we all love them. But what happens when your favorite appliance stops working? What do you do when your freezer doesn’t freeze, your toaster doesn’t toast, your washer doesn’t wash? Do you throw them in the trash? You should instead consider a more eco-friendly alternative for disposal, like appliance recycling!

Appliance Recycling

Appliance Disposal: What Happens When…

…You Throw Them Away

When you see abandoned appliances lying on the curb waiting for the dump truck, their final resting place is in a landfill. Appliance disposal in a landfill takes up a lot of space, increasing it’s unsightly and unhealthy size. Additionally, because appliances are not biodegradable, with some containing hazardous materials like chlorofluorocarbons (CFC), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB), mercury, and lead, they risk contaminating the soil and atmosphere.

Fortunately, many states have landfill bans that make it very difficult to dump appliances into landfills. This encourages better appliance disposal methods.

… You Reuse Them

Reusing is generally not an option for appliances that have a lot of issues. Often, replacement parts are expensive or hard to find. It’s also a tough call to figure out how much money to invest in an appliance that might break again soon. But if your appliance still works, try donating it first. There are many charities like the Salvation Army and Habitat for Humanity that will gladly accept old working appliances and will donate them to people in need.

…You Recycle Them

Appliance recycling is the most popular option when it comes to dealing with broken appliances. According to the Steel Recycling Institute, appliances contain at least 60% recyclable steel. In fact, the steel used in appliances is already made of 25% recycled steel. This means that most appliances contain recycled steel which can then be recycled again!

Besides steel, materials in appliances like glass, plastic, refrigerants, oils and other metals can be salvaged and reused. However, some appliances also contain toxic CFCs and PCBs. Trained technicians must recover these toxins using EPA-certified equipment before being safely disposed of.

After collection, appliances are separated into individual components (copper tubing, wiring, motors, compressors) for recycling. Once those components are removed, the leftover metal gets sent to a metal shredding facility. From here, qualified scrap metal goes to mills and converted to steel. This process uses 74% less energy than making steel from virgin iron ore!

Appliance Recycling with GreenCitizen

We offer appliance recycling in San Francisco at our Burlingame EcoCenter. Bay area residents can drop off their old appliances or businesses can choose our easy appliance pickup option.

From there, all appliances go to the Onsite Electronics facility, in Stockton, California, about 86 miles from San Francisco. Onsite Electronics is a California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) Certified Recycler. This means there are technicians on site that specifically handle hazardous materials found in appliances. Once appliances arrive, they undergo the same basic recycling process described above.

Appliance recycling is just one of the categories of electronic recycling at GreenCitizen. In fact, we take anything that plugs in the wall or runs on a battery. We refurbish and reuse everything we can and recycle the rest, all within 150 miles of the Bay area.

Never ask the questions, “where to recycle printers” or “where to recycle my microwave” again. We’ll take them off your hands while being environmentally conscious. Build a better, more green world with us today!

If you have any questions about appliance recycling or disposal, give us a call at (650) 493-8700.

How Electronic Recycling Reduces Greenhouse Gases

industrial carbon emission increasing greenhouse gases

Recycling and Greenhouse gases

Updated October 2018

Have you ever wondered: what makes recycling “green”? Does recycling help the environment? And how does this compare to other “green” activities like driving less or planting a tree? In this post, we’ll explore electronic recycling and greenhouse gases (GHG). You’ll learn how recycling stacks up against other green activities in carbon dioxide prevention.

How Does Electronic Recycling Reduce Carbon Emissions?

When a business or individual drops off electronic waste at GreenCitizen, it gets recycled by material type. The process of recycling separates and reuses those precious metals found in electronics. This lowers the demand for metal mining and extraction, an environmentally destructive, greenhouse gas-emitting process. When in excess, GHG (carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide) have a negative effect on earth’s climate. They absorb and emit radiant heat, warming the planet in the process. This is why electronic recycling is so important!

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has calculated the GHG emissions that are prevented when electronics are recycled. In fact, they created a calculator that uses the total weight of electronics recycled to determine the metric tons of mitigated GHG emissions. The chart below is a handy reference to see how much GHG emissions you decrease by recycling with GreenCitizen.

For example, if you recycle 60 pounds of electronics (a heavy TV and some miscellaneous appliances), you prevent 158 pounds of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere. In terms of GHG reduced, it’s equal to planting 2 trees or not burning 8 gallons of gasoline!

Electronics Recycled (lbs)Greenhouse gas emissions prevented (lbs of CO2e)Equivalent to the carbon sequestered by __ trees.Equivalent to carbon emissions from burning __ gallons of gasoline.

It’s amazing how easy electronic recycling in San Francisco is with GreenCitizen. It’s just one of the many ways you can reduce your carbon footprint.

If you have any questions about recycling and greenhouse gases, give us a call at (650) 493-8700.

Written by Gwen Buckley.

Broken CFLs: CFL Bulb Disposal and Recycling

Broken CFLs

Broken CFLs for CFL Bulb Disposal
Updated December 2018

Oh no! You have a broken CFL bulb and don’t know what to do. Do broken fluorescent bulbs get recycled? Why can’t you just clean it up and throw it away? Don’t worry, we can answer any and all questions about proper CFL bulb disposal!

Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs (CFLs) are commonly used in light fixtures because they’re more energy efficient than the older incandescent bulbs. However, CFLs contain mercury, which can be both harmful to the environment and to personal health. This means it’s important to dispose of them properly. You can’t just throw them in your trash at home! Many places in the San Francisco Bay Area accept intact light bulbs for recycling, including most hardware stores. The bigger problem is what to do with them when they’re broken or shattered, as most local drop off locations can’t accept broken CFLs.

What to Do with Broken CFL Bulbs?

So, what to do when a CFL breaks? First, clean up! Here are some guidelines for broken CFLs suggested by the EPA:

  1. Have everyone, including pets, leave the room.
  2. Air out the room for 5-10 minutes.
  3. Shut off any air conditioning or central air system.
  4. Collect all bulb fragments and powder using stiff paper or cardboard, sticky tape, and wet towels. Do not vacuum!
  5. Put all used cleaning materials and CFL pieces in a sealed container and keep outside in a garbage bin or container until it’s time to safely dispose of them.

Where to dispose of the pieces once you’ve cleaned them up depends on your location. So to help everyone in the Bay Area who is wondering where to take broken CFLs, you can scroll down to your county below and find out!

All of the following information is for county residents, not businesses. In some counties, businesses can drop off broken light bulbs for a fee, but in others, they would need to hire a private hazardous waste contractor. Most household hazardous waste facilities’ websites say that they accept light bulbs. However, they don’t specify if broken ones are ok, so we called to confirm with each county.

Where Should You Go For CFL Bulb Disposal in the San Francisco Bay Area?

Alameda County

There are 4 hazardous waste drop off locations in Alameda county, and they all accept broken or shattered CFLs. To save time, you can fill out their form beforehand. You must be an Alameda County resident to recycle at these facilities.

  1. Oakland Facility– 2100 East 7th St., Oakland
  2. Hayward Facility – 2091 West Winton Avenue, Hayward
  3. Livermore Facility – 5584 La Ribera Street, Livermore
  4. Fremont Facility – 41149 Boyce Road, Fremont

Contra Costa County

There are 3 hazardous waste drop off sites in Contra Costa County. Residents in the county can only drop off material at their specified site, and have to have proof of residency.

  1. West Costa County Facility – 101 Pittsburg Ave., Richmond

For residents of: Crockett, El Cerrito, El Sobrante, Hercules, Kensington, Montalvin Manor, North Richmond, Pinole, Port Costa, Richmond, Rodeo San Pablo, Tara Hills, Tormey and other unincorporated areas in West County only.

  1. Central Costa County Facility – 4797 Imhoff Pl., Martinez, CA 94553

For residents of: Alamo, Blackhawk, Clayton, Concord, Clyde, Danville, Lafayette, Martinez, Moraga, Orinda, Pacheco, Pleasant Hill, San Ramon, Walnut Creek and other unincorporated areas in Central County only.

  1. Delta (East) Contra Costa Facility – 2550 Pittsburg-Antioch Hwy, Antioch, CA 94509

For residents of: Antioch, Bay Point, Bethel Island, Brentwood, Byron, Discovery Bay, Knightsen, Oakley, Pittsburg and other unincorporated areas in East County only.

Marin County

Marin County offers free hazardous waste recycling to county residents (excluding Novato). The drop-off center is located at 565 Jacoby Street in San Rafael, CA 94901 and is open Tuesday-Saturday 8am-3:30pm. No appointment needed, but proof of residency is required. Questions? Call 415-485-6806.

Napa County

Napa County’s household hazardous waste facility is located at 889-A Devlin Road in Napa. It accepts broken CFLs from Napa residents, and no appointment is needed. This facility is open Fridays and Saturdays from 9am-4pm and their phone number is 707-259-8608.

Santa Clara County

For Santa Clara County residents, broken CFLs can be dropped off at drive-through collection sites in San Jose, San Martin, or Sunnyvale. If broken, the bulbs need to be in sealed bags or containers, and appointments are required. To make an appointment you can call (408) 299-7300.

San Francisco County

Residents of San Francisco have two options to recycle broken CFLs. The county does offer a pickup program for hazardous waste, including broken CFLs. However, if the only thing you’re having them pick up is a single bulb, that’s a waste of a trip for them. So San Franciscans can also drop off broken CFLs at the dump, located at 501 Tunnel Road, on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays between 8am and 4pm. Questions? Call (415) 330-1405.

San Mateo County

San Mateo County residents may recycle broken CFLs in San Mateo at drop-off events held Thursday-Saturday and in South San Francisco on the first Saturday of every month. The county door-to-door recycling program is only for light bulbs that are intact. So if you have a broken or shattered CFL, you’ll need to make an appointment. Appointments can be made by calling 650-363-4718 or visiting the county’s website.

Solano County

For Solano county residents, there is one drop-off location at the Fairfield Facility at 2901 Industrial Ct., Fairfield, CA 94533 that accepts broken CFLs. Appointments are necessary and can be made by calling 707-439-2800.

Sonoma County

Sonoma County operates the Household Toxics Facility for county residents to dispose of household hazardous waste, including broken CFLs. Proof of residency is required, but no appointment is needed. The site is located at 500 Mecham Rd., Petaluma and is open Thursday, Friday & Saturday, from 7:30 am-2:30 pm.

While CFL bulbs are great for saving energy, they become a problem when broken. It’s important that you know where to go for safe CFL bulb disposal in the Bay Area. Whether they’re broken or not, you’ve got plenty of options!

Want to know more about CFL bulb disposal and recycling? You can call us at (650) 493-8700 or chat with us online!

Written by Laura West.