Asheville proves recycling doesn’t have to be difficult

Have you ever tried to figure out where to recycle your old cell phone only to give up and just throw it in the trash?

Greenworks in Asheville found a solution to make recycling hard items easier for their citizens and those from surrounding areas.

Hard 2 Recycle, which is now 11 years old, is a collection event held quarterly throughout Buncombe County with one main event in downtown Asheville.

These five events are free to the public and allows people from all over the county and the surrounding areas to come and recycle odd items such as washing machines, cellphones, packing peanuts, and much more.

“It was started to offer residents a way to recycle things they can’t during roadside pickup. We
don’t want these things to end up in a landfill just because citizens couldn’t find a way to recycle them,” said Dawn Chavez, Executive Director of Asheville Greenworks.

Not only do they recycle these items, they try to reuse them by donating them to local organizations. Styrofoam and packing peanuts go to The Open Box Moving Solutions, a local moving company, to be hauled off and recycled. Electronics, scrap metal, and batteries are given to Biltmore Iron and Metal Company where items are either recycled or taken apart for parts to be reused. Books, cardboard, and other paper products go to Curbside Management the local recyclable materials handler for Western North Carolina. Pet items are donated to the Asheville Humane Society to be given to the animals they have up for adoption. All working appliances, furniture and building materials go to Habitat for Humanity Restore in Asheville where they sell the items and use the profits to provide funding for their building programs. Finally, gently used books are given to Snake, Rabbit and Snail Bookmobile which sells and donates used children’s books to children in need.

“I was definitely impressed with the turnout. While I was there lots of people were bringing items to drop off for recycling. I do wish they had a site for chemicals, old paint, etc. I think many times people just dump those down the drain or hide them in the trash,” said Adam Griffin, WCU student who attended the event.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency‘s website states that recycling one million laptops saves the energy equivalent to the electricity used by more then 3,500 US homes in a year. In the U.S. we only recycle approximately 12.5 percent of electronic waste, but shockingly most of this waste isn’t really waste and can be fixed and reused.
“If someone drops off a vacuum cleaner that doesn’t work it will be taken apart and the parts will either be recycled or sold. If the vacuum cleaner does work it will be donated to Habitat so that it can be reused,” Chavez said.According to Chavez, the organization wants to get as much use out of the items as possible.

“I had no idea this stuff could be recycled,” said Kayla Noyes, a SCC student in attendance. “I
think it’s really cool how they are educating the public.”

The event this Saturday was only the first of five throughout the year. The next will be held on April 29 in the City Public Works parking lot in downtown Asheville from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. Click here for a list of accepted recyclables.

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