A lot of lead and toxic heavy chemicals will not get to pollute the environment, thanks to area residents who took advantage of a free e-waste collection event at the Southeast Kansas Recycling Center.

A lot of lead and toxic heavy chemicals will not get to pollute the environment, thanks to area residents who took advantage of a free e-waste collection event at the Southeast Kansas Recycling Center.


“We’ll probably get nearly a semi load of stuff,” said Chuck Delp, center operations manager. “We’ve had everything from people bringing in one item to somebody who had a 12-foot trailer packed full.”


He said about 60 percent of the items turned in were TV sets, ranging in size from a four-inch to a 52-inch screen.


“I don’t think people get TV sets repaired any more,” Delp said. “I don’t know if they even can repair modern sets. It’s scary to me that we’re creating 150-pound disposable items with short life spans.”


Lots of computers were also brought in.


“The average home computer contains about eight pounds of lead and just about every heavy metal on the list of carcinogens,” Delp said.


“The most unusual thing we’ve had brought in was an ultrasound machine,” said Sara Henry, center volunteer. “They said it still works, but the pictures aren’t too good.”


The e-waste will be sent to ESCO, a company in Rogers, Ark.


“They dismantle everything down to the basic screws,” Delp said. “Cathode ray tubes, which are the picture tubes from TV sets and old computer monitors, which contain leaded glass, phosphorous and other nasty chemicals, are sent to a special place where they are melted down under a vacuum to control the lead fumes.”


However, some items won’t be going to ESCO.


“A small percentage of the stuff will be refurbished and retailed,” Delp said. “If anybody needs a computer printer, we have a lot of them because people always think they have to get the latest one.”


“One man brought in three printers and said that they all still work,” Henry said. “He was getting rid of them because it was too expensive for the cartridges.”


“I’ve already got an electric guitar in my car that I’ll be taking down to Joplin to help replace band instruments,” said Chuck Lickner.


One person bringing in items was Martin Ross, who is visiting from Ohio and helping his mother clean out her house.


“When I saw that they were taking e-waste for free here, I decided to come in,” he said. ”This gave me a good alternative to getting rid of things, and I was glad to have this opportunity.”


Delp said that Saturday wasn’t the only chance area residents have to bring in their TV sets, computers, microwaves, radios, keyboards, etc.


“Today was free, but we’ll gladly accept e-waste every day we’re open, for a small fee,” Delp said.