E-waste Recycling Comes to Times Square

January 9, 2014 Updated: January 9, 2014

NEW YORK—For New Yorkers who were willing to brave the subfreezing temperatures Wednesday, Duffy Square at the northern triangle of Times Square became a destination for recycling old electronics.

Broadway Green Alliance partnered with Verizon, which brought along its subcontractor SHI and the NFL, to co-host the e-waste recycling event.

People brought in old printers, computers, cellphones, TVs, and many other electronic devices, which men in thick black jackets and yellow reflector vests loaded into big cardboard boxes and on pallets.

“This equipment, a lot of it is filled with known carcinogens … if it ends up in the landfill it will seep down into the water supply and it becomes part of what you’re going to be drinking out of the tap, becomes what you start to breathe,” said Paul Brundage, senior vice president of sales at AnythingIT, the company in charge of recycling for the event.

“The problem is, everyone wants the latest cellphone, they want the latest TV they want all this kind of stuff and they don’t want it in a landfill, so a lot of that stuff ends up going to China, going to Ghana, going to other places like that,” Brundage said. “We’re pushing an environmental, ecological disaster off on another country across the way.”

Brundage said AnythingIT makes sure the electronics stay in the United States and are repurposed. They recycle the metals, plastics, and anything else they can salvage, and they give to charities any devices that are still in working condition.

Two years ago Dave Roth, a musician on Broadway, started Broadway Alzheimer’s iPod Drive. Both his parents have Alzheimer’s. He found that when he would play them familiar music, they were able to sing along, even though they had lost much of their vocabulary.

“Not only are they able to sing the lyrics but it does seem to awaken them for periods of time,” Roth said.

Any iPod donated through the drive will go to Music and Memory, a nonprofit that distributes iPods to Alzheimer’s patients around the country.

Working and broken phones were sent to Verizon’s charity Hope Line. “Hope Line takes all the items for domestic abuse women’s shelters basically, and reuses them,” said John Dorn, project manager for Verizon’s Sustainability Group.

Verizon does these events all over the country and since 2009 it said it has saved about 1.5 million pounds of e-waste from going to the landfill.

Since 2011 New York has required retailers of electronics to inform their customers of how to recycle their purchases after they are done with them. Walking around New York City streets before trash collection though, it is noticeable many residents are not sending their electronics for recycling.

In 2009 the EPA estimated only 25 percent of the 2.37 million tons of electronic waste sent for disposal in the United States was recycled.

Starting in 2015 individuals will be prohibited from putting their electronics out on the curbside like other trash. Whether this is an effective method of ensuring e-waste is recycled is debatable, but it may motivate some to look up an e-waste recycler in their neighborhood.

To learn more about recycling resources near you, visit: www.1800recycling.com

Holly Kellum is a special correspondent in New York.

Follow Holly on Twitter: @HollyGailK