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Electronics Recycling Powerful Help for Environment

DECATUR - By the time Raymond and William McKinney made their way to the front of the line of cars Saturday at Progress City in Decatur, their heavy lifting was over.

They had already helped remove a large television set from the basement of their sister's home and driven it to a Macon County Environmental Management Department electronics collection event. They knew taking it to be recycled was one of the few choices they had to get rid of such a large television.

“Nobody else takes it,” Raymond McKinney said.

A crew from Advanced Technology Recycling, or ATR, was working nearly nonstop to take the electronics hundreds of drivers had brought and begin sorting the items. The line of vehicles snaked around a quarter of the fenced site, with some drivers waiting more than an hour in the line.

The effort from all involved is worthwhile, said Deb Garrett, the Environmental Management Department's director.

“It's a priority to me anytime we can keep toxic materials out of landfills,” Garrett said.

The agency is planning to organize three collections this year, with the first held in March, Garrett said. She said the March collection was the largest in four years with more than 660 cars and nearly 103,000 pounds of materials collected.

The latest collection was appearing nearly as popular, with materials from 550 vehicles dropped off during the four hours the gates were open. Many of those stopping by the event were repeat visitors, Garrett said.

“It's a great event judging by the line,” said Jim Underwood of Maroa as he dropped off materials. He needed a trailer attached behind his vehicle to haul the television sets he wanted recycled.

The next scheduled collection is a mega recycling event from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 3, at Progress City, Garrett said. Electronics, eyeglasses, tires, CFLs, VHS tapes and CDs, flags and rechargeable batteries will be accepted during that event, she said.

With fewer companies taking electronics to be recycled due to the cost, Garrett said the collections have become necessary for area residents.

The items collected were being sorted and packaged to be brought to ATR's facility in Pontiac, said Ray Magee, the company's business development manager. Some older televisions contain lead, which Magee said important to keep out of landfills and away from groundwater.

Magee said weather conditions were ideal for the dozen or so workers to do the heavy lifting. The event has proven successful with Magee expecting to fill at least the four semi truck trailers that were on site.

The logistics of holding the event at Progress City have proven successful, said Beau Hanger, Richland Community College director outdoor exposition center and special events. Drivers arrived more than an hour before the gates were scheduled to open, he said.

Hanger said having the ability to keep the line off main streets such as Mound Road is important for safety reasons.