April 22 is officially Earth Day. Not only can you contribute, but I found a place where you can benefit. It's called e-Cyclers of Idaho in Idaho Falls.
"If I can't resell it, I can sure as heck can recycle it," said owner, Mark Jeffs.
One day, he had an idea. He had seen the reduce, reuse, and recycle logo so many times, that he thought it might work into his background. He's a computer technician with more than 24 years experience, but it was the old computers that were being thrown away, that had him concerned.
"You know, this stuff has to be worth something," said Jeffs.
And it didn't take much research to realize it is.
"This stuff is the good stuff," said Jeffs pointing to the gold contacts on a circuit board. "This is what people are looking for in a refiner. They're looking for that and that is just gold plating."
And that's how e-Cyclers of Idaho was born.
"And I actually started to recycle the material because I saw how much was actually going into our landfills," said Jeffs.
Here is how it works. If you bring in an old piece of electronic equipment, Mark can do one of three things with it. He can repair it. He can reuse the parts to refurbish other items for resale. Or he can tear it completely apart and refine the valuable and reusable metals.
"Gold, silver, platinum, palladium, lead, copper," said Jeffs.
Mark has been doing this for seven years. He moved into his new store front back in October 2013 and now employs five workers in various stages of repair or disassembly.
"So this one has, literally, 20 times more gold on it than that does," he said, holding a larger CPU next to a smaller one. "So I'd love to get a thousand of those."
Mark says most people don't realize a single computer mother board can contain up to 15 percent copper.
"And if you talk about a 1,000 of these that are 1,000 pounds, you're talking about 150 pounds of copper that could be reused instead of thrown away," he said.
According to Mark, the biggest problem in our landfills today are the old-style TV sets and old-style monitors that are glass and being thrown away with mercury and other harmful metals in them. Repeat customers like Michelle Johnson of Idaho Falls love the concept and it's kept her coming back for five years.
"I think it is great. I mean if somebody can use the parts to build another one rather than throw it away, I think that's great. It's a lot better for the environment to do it that way," said Johnson.
"At the end of the day, we feel great because we know that we are actually making a difference. At least in southeastern Idaho we're making a difference," said Jeffs.
Mark's company is also devoting some time, services, and even equipment to international schools that don't have a lot of computer technology, like recently in Guatemala.
E-Cyclers of Idaho currently buys material as far away as Montana, Wyoming, and Utah. If you have some old electronics, drop it by the store rather than throw it away. You can find them at 1975 North Yellowstone in Idaho Falls.
Idaho Falls' Earth Day celebration is Saturday, April 26 at Tautphaus Park and Tautphaus Park Zoo from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. KIDK and KXPI are a proud sponsor. For information click www.ifearthday.com.