DEQ official unveils plan to improve UP electronics recycling

Kali Katerberg/Daily Mining Gazette Steve Noble of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality on Wednesday proposed plans to establish new electronic recycling locations in the areas.

HOUGHTON–Environmentally conscious community members and organizations are trying to make electronics recycling simpler in the local area.

The Copper Country Recycling Initiative and the UP Electronics Recycling Network hosted a presentation by Steve Noble of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Wednesday at the MTU Lakeshore Center. Noble discussed electronic recycling solutions and proposed plans to move forward with collection centers in the area.

Ideally, the groups are working to establish a network of permanent dropoff locations for smaller UP towns and cities. The goal would be consistent service and certified recyclers.

“The network will recycle anything,” said Noble, although some devices might require a small fee to cover disposal.

So far Noble has several locations expressing interest and intends to work with Goodwill locations for drop off and Michigan-based Comprenew for certification.

“You know that your material will be properly handled,” Noble said, mentioning sensitive devices like laptops that could contain personal information.

Additional participants are welcome and competitive mini-grants are available to help those who meet the requirements get started.

“Anyone who wants to help this network, the more the merrier,” Noble said.

The groups are trying to keep operating costs low to make the effort feasible and efficient.

Now that people are more aware of problems caused by dumping old electronics in landfills, notably lead and mercury contamination, many trash collectors won’t take them.

“It’s baby steps but we’re getting there,” said Noble, who expected a significant rollout of the plan to take place this spring.