Bedford Residents Dispose of Electronic Devices For Free!!

Image (c) Pace Butler Corporation
Image (c) Pace Butler Corporation

Submitted by Gretchen Carey, Beford DPW’s Recycling Coordinator

Electronic waste, or e-waste, is something found in almost every household nowadays: computers, monitors, cell phones, televisions, video game consoles…. the list is long.  But how can these items be safely disposed of, with their lead-soldered circuit boards and mercury bulbs?    Let the Department of Public Works help you with this problem: residents of Bedford are welcome to call Allied Waste at 1-800-442-9006 to have their e-waste picked up on a predetermined day every other week.  Best of all, the pick-up is free!E- waste items are worth recycling because of the incorporated copper, steel, and plastic, and are worth keeping them out of the waste stream because they may contain contaminants such as lead, cadmium, beryllium, and bromated fire retardants, which are all toxic to humans and the environment.  Items like TV screens and computer monitors also contain substantial amounts of lead (as much as 8 pounds from a CRT!) and mercury.  Approximately 70% of toxic waste at landfills comes from e-waste.

There are several environmentally-minded businesses that work with e-waste, and they are distinguished bytheir certification from the accrediting group E-Stewards. Electronic Recyclers International, who handles Bedford’s e-waste, is on this list.  They take great care to make sure that all the parts of the e-waste brought to them are recycled, reclaimed, or disposed of safely and properly.  While this service is free to Bedford residents, these groups usually charge a small fee for each object, as their overhead is considerable. If you or your organization is thinking about hosting an e-waste day, please search for an accredited company in your area

In contrast, there are many groups that are willing to take your e-waste for free and falsely claim to handle it all in an environmentally sound manner. Instead they reclaim what they want out of it and dispose of the remainder illegally, often by shipping it to developing countries where the population then suffers from the heavy metals and toxic fumes from burning the plastic parts.

In an attempt to respond proactively to e-waste, the Environmental Protection Agency has established a system of “product stewardship”- calling on those in the product lifecycle—manufacturers, retailers, users, and disposers—to share responsibility for reducing the environmental impacts of products.  Some companies, such as Hewlett-Packard and Epson, have taken this idea to heart and are what are considered “zero-waste”. For a list of other impressively sustainable companies, read more at .

The world is changing, and so is the type of waste we are producing.  How we handle our unwanted electronic devices is important:  it is too easy for these metals and toxins to end up in our air and water supply.  So collect all your e-waste, and make that call today!

These are the e-waste items that Bedford picks up:

  • televisions and computer monitors
  • computers and computer peripherals (e.g., monitors and keyboards)
  • audio and stereo equipment
  • VCRs and DVD players
  • video cameras
  • telephones, cellular phones and other wireless devices
  • fax, copy, and printing machines
  • video game consoles
  • laptops
  • plasma screens
  • LCD’s
  • Key boards and mice
  • Network equipment, servers, telecom equipment.
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Gretchen Carey
January 8, 2013 3:36 pm

Response from Gretchen Carey, DPW Recycling Coordinator:

Thanks for the question Stephan!

You have a few alternatives for shredding paper as a resident, outside of the yearly Shredding Day.

First, you could buy yourself an in–home shredding machine, and then put the shredded paper into paper bags, which you then staple closed and put out to the curb for recycling (consider labeling them “shredded paper” so the waste collector knows to take it).

Secondly, I know Staples stores (and possibly others) will occasionally have a day when you can bring in 5 pounds or less to shred for free.

Lastly, if you have a really large amount to shred, you can call the
company that the town used, Shred-It, and they will come to your house with a
shredder for $250 plus fuel. Consider going in on this with a friend, to make it
more affordable. Shred-It does the work while you watch, so you feel secure
about your belongings. If you choose that route, you can call Kendall Knox at
781.201.0746, or send her questions at [email protected]

January 12, 2013 8:55 am
Reply to  Gretchen Carey

Thanks Gretchen, I have a shredder but my concern about putting it curbside is security, especially in paper bags. To that end, you realize how impractical it is to put shredded paper into a paper bag? Hardly anything will fit. There has to be a better solution for residents who want to be responsible with their paper waste but are concerned with security, as all residents should be. Even if it’s fee-based.

January 7, 2013 8:50 pm

This is great to know; just a reminder to everyone to wipe your phone and computer memory before recycling those devices. Or maybe keep the hard drives and memory cards and deal with them separately (they take up much less space)

Is there anywhere in town that does secure shredding? I know the town hosts an event a couple times a year, I have so much stuff to get rid of.

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