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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Business

Company expands PC recycling

A Spokane company that for the past two years has gathered up and sold discarded personal computers to Asian processors now says it will dismantle the machines and sell the recyclable waste overseas.

Inland ReTech, which launched in 2003, has moved to a larger office at 309 N. Sycamore in Spokane Valley to handle the extra work, said company President Dennis Ford.

Ford said he shifted the business to dismantling and shipping parts because he foresaw regulations by state officials requiring him to do that within the next two years.

“People want to know the (equipment) is being safely disposed of. That’s important to us, too,” he said.

At present, Washington requires only that businesses and schools not dump old PCs into landfills. State officials can urge, but can’t require, businesses like Inland ReTech to send electronic parts only to companies that manage the materials in a safe manner.

Since January, Inland ReTech has been a two-person operation. With the added task of breaking down the components, Ford said the firm will have four full-time employees and two part-time workers.

Ford said Inland ReTech also will charge more to dispose of discarded computers or used TVs.

Inland ReTech has basically picked up computers and monitors at no cost; for pieces older than 1996, it charged $2 for each monitor, computer box or printer.

Starting in July, residents discarding equipment will pay $5 per monitor or $2.50 per computer case. Businesses and schools pay slightly higher rates.

The company will send trucks for site pick-ups only for 20 or more units, Ford added.

The new rates go into effect July 1.

Ford expects Inland ReTech’s main customers will be school districts and businesses that need to find ways to discard their old computers, monitors and printers.

Ford said he’s been told by state Ecology Department officials he will be the only PC dismantler east of the Cascades. The largest Western Washington dismantler and recycler is Total Reclaim, based in Seattle.

Inland ReTech is not the only company here collecting used PCs. Several others accept electronic waste and then arrange to ship the products to companies that safely dispose of them. Some area companies take their e-waste to Total Reclaim.

In Spokane County, the Waste to Energy plant still burns discarded computers. Computer monitors and TV sets are separated and disposed of elsewhere, said Spokane solid waste officials.

Instead of wrapping the units and shipping them whole to Asian processors, Ford now plans to dismantle them into plastics, metals, glass and other parts. He has established a relationship with Hong Kong’s ecology department to ensure the parts are shipped only to processors that comply with environmentally safe standards, said Ford.

Generally, the components worth anything will be sent to China. “China is the No. 1 buyer for those products right now,” added Ford.

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