Broken televisions and computer monitors are creating an annoying problem for a Waynesville battered women’s shelter and thrift shop, but leaders of another charitable organization are attempting to help.
Linda Gifford, who manages the Pulaski County Sheltered Workshop in Richland, said she was contacted by representatives of the Good Samaritan thrift shop after they attempted to take a truckload of broken televisions to the St. Robert trash transfer station and were turned down.
Good Samaritan is a nonprofit thrift shop whose profits support the Genesis shelter for battered women. It also provides a place where less-affluent residents can purchase low-cost donated clothing and household items.
“For years, people have made donations to Good Samaritan and that’s wonderful and they appreciate good donations, but some people are unwise and dropping off TVs that don’t work,” Gifford said. “Good Samaritan can’t resell them and they were paying the landfill to haul them away and now they can’t even do that anymore. Every dollar they have to spend to haul away someone else’s trash takes away from the battered women’s shelter.”
That happened because of a legal change, said Doug Adkins, manager of the St. Robert Trash Transfer Station.
“They passed a new ordinance for landfills that they can no longer accept TVs and electronics; we can only take the TVs once the insides are stripped out of it and most people don’t do that,” Adkins said.
Now that St. Robert can’t take the broken televisions, there’s only one site left in Pulaski County where people can take their equipment: the Pulaski County Sheltered Workshop.
“We’ve been detouring the monitors and the TVs basically to them,” Adkins said. “People who are concerned about properly disposing things have an option, even if they have to drive to Richland to do it.”
Gifford acknowledged that driving to Richland may be a problem for people who live in other parts of Pulaski County.
“I would love to have a drop-off site; the problem is TVs have to be weighed and receipts have to be given and I don’t know who would be willing to do that as a volunteer,” Gifford said.
The cost to drop off broken items is $15 per computer monitor and 80 cents per pound for each television, she said. The facility is located just south of the railroad tracks in Richland on Highway 7 in the city’s industrial park.
The reason for the cost is that computer monitors and televisions contain some items that are dangerous and others that should be recycled, but that recycling process is expensive. The monitors and televisions are taken to the HTR company 30 miles away in the city of Kaiser, which has a recycling depot with the necessary recycling equipment to dispose of the items safely.
“That is a company that actually crushes them down and separates the glass from the chemicals and we mail (a certificate of recycling ) back out to the customer so they can prove that they did recycle it and not leave them out by the side of the road as I’ve heard of some people doing,” Gifford said.
The Pulaski County Sheltered Workshop is an organization that hires physically handicapped, mentally handicapped and mentally ill people who would have trouble finding employment elsewhere.
“For people who are not able to work in a competitive work environment, we provide them a safe haven of a job and transportation so they can be successful,” Gifford said.
The organization, which currently has 64 special-needs employees and 11 general employees such as bus drivers, supervisors assistant managers and maintenance employees, has several different programs intended to help people in those categories put their labor to gainful employment. The sheltered workshop is supported by a property tax levy in Pulaski County and also receives some funds from the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Gifford said. However, it strives to find commercially viable ways to use the skills of lower-functioning adults, and handling disposal of electronic items is one such labor-intensive project.
While the Pulaski County Sheltered Workshop’s role with electronic waste is primarily to be a warehouse for sorting and shipping items for reshipment elsewhere, some other sheltered workshops including one in Lebanon do more of the actual recycling work. The facilities in Lebanon and Kaiser are the only nearby options other than driving to Richland where people can legally and safety dispose of electronic waste on a regular basis, she said.
Other electronic items besides computers and televisions can also be dropped off, Gifford said. Those items include:
• straight fluorescent bulbs which cost 16 cents per foot to drop off,
• U-tubes, circular and compact fluorescent bulbs which cost 80 cents each,
• HID, mercury vapor, halide and sodium lights which cost $1.98 each,
• shatter-shield or power grove bulbs which cost $2.50 each,
• incandescent, quartz or halogen lights which cost 40 cents each, and
• ultraviolet or arc lamps which cost $5 each.
It’s important to be responsible with those types of light bulbs, Gifford said.
“Mercury can leach into the lakes and streams; what’s causing that is the fluorescent bulbs and that harms the fish by high mercury levels,” Gifford said.
While there’s no regular system to drop off electronic waste in Pulaski County other than Richland, the city administrator for St. Robert said he’s working with another organization to provide a periodic drop-off point for electronic waste, even if it’s not available all year.
“We do once a year enter into a collection day through the solid waste portion of the Meramec Regional Planning Commission where they set up a trailer and they can accept the electronics,” said City Administrator Norman Herren. “We advocate that people come in and dispose of these items in the proper way.”