South Charlotte

Don't boot it: Take e-trash to Goodwill

In preparation for a new state law banning televisions and computer equipment from landfills, Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont is encouraging spring-cleaners in south Charlotte to drop off their old electronics at one of its collection centers.

Effective July 1, the new law bans electronic waste from landfills because hazardous materials including lead and mercury often are present in the equipment.

When not disposed of properly, the materials can be harmful to the environment, said Patrick Darrow, director of environmental enterprises at Goodwill of the Southern Piedmont.

Goodwill accepts computers, televisions, VCRs, stereos, camcorders, copiers, fax machines and digital music players in any condition to recycle.

In 2004, nonprofit Goodwill partnered with computer manufacturer Dell to start a technology-recycling program called Dell Reconnect. Electronics donated to Goodwill are taken to a secure facility on Freedom Drive, where Dell-certified technicians assess them.

If the electronics work, technicians wipe hard drives that might contain sensitive material and refurbish the products to sell at Goodwill's Computer Works store, also on Freedom Drive.

Proceeds from the store go toward Goodwill's job training and employment-placement services and other community-based programs for people who have disabilities, lack education or job experience or face employment challenges.

Goodwill of the Southern Piedmont spokeswoman Lelia King said the training program helped more than 15,000 people get jobs last year.

If the electronics can't be fixed, technicians save any parts they can use or sell in the store and then send the other components to its recycling facility, where the electronics are broken down into raw materials and recycled according to environmentally-friendly standards.

Last year, the Dell Reconnect program recycled more than 4 million pounds of electronic waste from 13 counties in North Carolina and five counties in South Carolina.

Foxhole Landfill's recycling center, 17131 Lancaster Highway, in Ballantyne also accepts computers and computer monitors.

Goodwill co-sponsored a Matthews Earth Day Celebration on April 24, and employees brought the "Don't Dump. Donate!" truck to accept old computers and accessories during the festivities.

Donations and store sales typically increase during spring, said King.

The majority of Mecklenburg County's Goodwill collection sites are scattered across south Charlotte, and there's also a retail store and collection site at Plantation Market shopping center, at the corner of Weddington and McKee roads.

King asks that no one drop off items after hours: Goodwill has had to deal with thieves who drive to the centers and steal donations.

The south Charlotte donation centers have signs warning against leaving anything unattended.

"Goodwill appreciates the donations of the community ... and we want to be good stewards of our donations," said King.

There's a better way to get rid of electronic waste, said Darrow. "Instead of throwing it away, donate it to Goodwill," he said. "Working or not, we'll take it."