Electronic Waste Now Has A Recyclable Alternative at Soaring Heights
Families at Soaring Heights Davis-Monthan Air Force Base are seeing a whole new level of recycling with the recent start of a new service collaboration between Soaring Heights and a local business, Suburban Miners.
With the ever-growing amount of electronic materials waste throughout the nation, from discarded monitors to hard drives to modems to cell phones and more, landfills are experiencing new burdens on capacity. This is a trend Soaring Heights and Suburban Miners seek to change.
“When we first began discussions with Suburban Miners, we immediately saw the potential to reduce our project’s impact on local landfills to near zero,” said Jim Switzer, Soaring Heights project director. “In the course of our normal operations, we periodically need to discard or change out equipment that is either worn out, broken or no longer meets the demands of our project. With Suburban Miners, we found a small, local business willing to recycle these materials for us and for our residents, at no cost to our project.”
In a typical month, Soaring Heights (offices, maintenance and communities) recycles approximately 15 tons of materials, comprised mainly of paper and plastic. Other items, such as worn out washers, refrigerators and dryers, are also recycled by Soaring Heights maintenance workers.
According to a recent study conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, of the 2.25 million tons of televisions, cell phones and computer products ready for end-of-device-life management, 18 percent (414,000 tons) were collected for recycling and 82 percent (1.84 million tons) were disposed of, primarily in landfills.
Items that will be accepted by the program include virtually anything that is either metal or electronic. The program also accepts plastics, cardboard and more. Residents can find a complete list of accepted items at www.suburbanminers.com.
Vicki Becker, who heads sustainability initiatives at Soaring Heights, recognizes the impact the program will have on residents. “We tend to think that once something is thrown away, it’s gone forever,” she said. “That’s simply not the case with e-waste (disposal of electronics products) If it winds up in a landfill, some of its materials can have long-term negative environmental impacts. If it is recycled, those same materials can be reclaimed and given new life.”
New life to old items is exactly what the new recycling program with Suburban Miners is intended to offer by greatly increasing the recycling of electronic waste. All materials collected as part of this program are part of Suburban Miners’ no landfill policy.
Of concern to many residents may be the protection of personally identifiable information whenever they turn over their equipment to recyclers. Suburban Miners separates all hard drives and related materials for total destruction through degaussing (demagnetizing) hard drives and/or physically shredding hard drives and other data media. Prior to shredding, the equipment is secured in a video- and alarm-monitored environment to ensure no unauthorized access to the materials. The company then harvests the heavy metals for distribution to U.S.-based companies who can put the metals back into other products.
“With this program, we saw an opportunity to help the environment while establishing a unique and needed service for our residents,” said Becker. “The program in Tucson is our pilot program and soon we will expand the program with Suburban Miners to Soaring Heights Holloman AFB in New Mexico.” Becker anticipates the addition of e-waste recycling for offices and residents will keep many more tons of materials from finding their way to landfills.
Soaring Heights residents can locate containers at two locations: a large container – open only during normal business hours, Monday through Friday -- behind the Soaring Heights Maintenance Office (at 6065 E. National Blvd) and a smaller container – open 24 hours a day -- next to the Soaring Heights Welcome Home Community Center (at 8090 E. Ironwood).
Save energy and help your budget during warm weather
- If possible, keep your room air conditioner out of the sun. Room air conditioners work best when kept cool. Installing one in a north-facing wall is usually ideal.
- If you have central air conditioning, keep your thermostat at 78 degrees. You can also save approximately an additional six to seven percent off your cooling costs for each degree above 78.
- If your air conditioner does not have a thermostat, adjust it to a lower setting, or combine using it with a window or ceiling fan to cool things down.
- Consider installing a ceiling fan. During hot weather a ceiling fan will create a cool breeze and keep the air circulating in your home.
- Get rid of hot air. Use an exhaust fan to blow hot air out of your kitchen while you’re cooking. The savings on your cooling costs far outweigh the electricity used by the fan. Also, take lukewarm showers and baths to avoid humid air, which holds more heat.
- A dehumidifier can greatly add to your electric bill. Make sure you have the appropriate sized dehumidifier for your home.
- Close blinds, drapes and shades during the hottest part of the day. This keeps the strong sunlight from heating your home.
- Use your microwave or countertop appliances for cooking instead of the oven or stove.
- What says summer better than burgers and hot dogs? Instead of using your oven or stove, which can generate heat on an already hot day, fire up the outdoor grill for cooking. You can also use your microwave or other countertop appliances in place of the stove or oven.
- Turn your water heater down to 120 degrees Fahrenheit to save money on your electricity bill. If you have children in the house, this is also a safety measure.
- Install ENERGY STAR compact fluorescent light bulbs in your most-used fixtures and lamps. Fluorescent bulbs put out less heat, plus you’ll save $30 to $40 in energy costs over the life of each bulb.
- Check your heating and cooling system to make sure it is operating at peak efficiency.
- Postpone laundry and dishwashing until nighttime to avoid generating extra heat in your home. Also, consider taking advantage of the warmer air and dry your laundry outside.
- Don’t forget about your own energy. Wearing lighter clothing can help cool you down without turning on the air conditioner. Also, remember to stay hydrated during extreme temperatures.
- If you have a pool, turn off your filter overnight when the pool is not in use.
Source: NSTAR Electric and Gas. Delivering safe and reliable electricity and natural gas to customers in Eastern, Central and Southeastern Massachusetts.
Energy Star Home Improvement Tips