90.3 WBHM Birmingham-- You recycle, right? Of course you do! But what about that "less-than-smart-phone" you just replaced with the latest model? What about those batteries in the clock? Sometimes it's hard to know what to do with electronic gizmos, but as WBHM's Tanya Ott reports some e-recycling is up dramatically in the south.


Up to half of all Americans say they recycle common materials (paper, plastic and glass) "all of the time" (source: Natural Marketing Institute). Don Dickman and Kathleen McEvvit do their part for the environment.

"We recycle glass, we recycle metal, we recycle plastic, magazines, paper," says Dickman.

"I'm trying to think if we recycle any electronics," interrupts with wife, McEvvit. "I don't think we have."

When it comes to electronics, many of us need a little nudge.

A new survey from the consumer electronics marketplace finds that more than 60% of respondents nationwide don't recycle their old electronic gadgets. Many people say they don't know how to recycle electronics - or that e-recycling isn't available where they live.

Most people who recycle their old cells phones and batteries do it at retail outlets like Radio Shack, Home Depot and Staples. Jeff Morris owns a Cartridge World franchise.

"We take in batteries for recycling and then they get sent off. Usually I send them over to the local batteries plus store or there are some local charities that can actually make a little money with them if we send them there."

Morris says he's lost track of how many batteries and toner cartridges his shop recycles each year. It's a lot!

Lisa Pollack is with Call2Recycle. Since 1994, Call2Recycle says it's diverted more than 50 million pounds of rechargeable batteries from landfills. Still that's just a drop in the bucket. Does this sound familiar?

"Often times we hoard them," says Pollack. "We keep them in our drawers or they sit in our closets or our attics, instead of bringing them in for recycling. And the fact that they sit there means we know we're not supposed to throw them away, but we're not necessarily sure what we are supposed to do with them."

For some products (especially cell phones) it's important to recycle them as soon as possible The longer you wait the harder it is for recycling companies to make money off them because they get outdated. If you want to find a place to recycle your phone and rechargeable batteries, Call2Recycle has a network of 30,000 collection sites, including 300 sites in Alabama. (go to their webpage and enter your zip code to find collection sites near you. To find out where to recycle other electronics in Alabama, the Alabama Environmental Council has details.)

Pollack says this year there's been a sharp increase in rechargeable battery recycling in the south, a place where recycling has been slow to take off. South Carolina, Kentucky and Arkansas all saw battery recycling climb more than 50% compared to last year. In Alabama the increase was 10%. So far this year, Alabamians have recycled more than 27,000 pounds of rechargeable batteries through Call2Recycle.

~ Tanya Ott, October 12, 2010