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Sherman Says: While recycling rules vary, one project has widespread merit

More should be done to standardize and simplify the process of recycling and trash collection in Erie County. It’s an outdated, inefficient necessity typical of many service-related issues in Western New York.

Thirty years ago, we were still throwing out newspapers with the household trash in Amherst. Today, larger containers are on the way to accommodate the increase in both recyclable materials as well as the surge in participation. Metal items and most plastics land alongside newspapers and paper products each week.

Yet policies vary by community – a topic for a more in-depth column in the future.

Two waste boards create the Department of Environmental Conservation-mandated solid waste disposal plan, which is adhered to by all municipalities, according to Peter Anderson, press secretary for Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz.

But each localized plan is forged individually, “dictated largely by budget size, population, tax base [and the] recycling budget,” he said. “While the plan is the same for all, how they get to the goal is up to them.”

Those not sure if pizza boxes are accepted in their community for recycling, or don’t know what to do with that PC that’s been collecting dust in the back of the garage will soon have an option that’s both safe and responsible and benefits a good cause.

Sunnking, in partnership with Camp Good Days and Special Times, has created E-Scrap 4 Camp, a program to turn old electronics into funding to help improve the quality of life for children, adults and families whose lives have been touched by cancer.

Founded in 2000, Sunnking is New York State’s first R2 Certified electronics recycling, data destruction and asset management company dealing in outdated or damaged electronic equipment. Facilities in Buffalo and Brockport collect, refurbish, resell and recycle electronic products from both residential and commercial customers.

The Camp Good Days and Special Times initiative has generated real results. In the first three years of the effort, a total of 991,006 pounds of electronics were collected and recycled resulting in more than $30,000 donated to the locally based charity.

Businesses and organizations in the Buffalo area are encouraged to sign up to collect electronics from their employees, friends and family members for a one-week period in April. Sunnking will provide boxes to collect electronics and pick them up at no cost. The deadline to register is March 21.

As an added bonus to this ecological effort, the participating location with the most electronics collected by weight will win $500 worth of refurbished computer equipment from Sunnking.

A kickoff event for our area will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, March 1, at 6430 Transit Road, Depew, across from Salvatore's Italian Gardens.

Details on the firm’s project to benefit Camp Good Days and Special Times can be found at www.sunnking.com/escrap-4-camp.

Organized by Gary Mervis in 1979 following the diagnosis of his youngest daughter, Teddi, with a malignant brain tumor, Camp Good Days and Special Times provides residential camping programs and year-round recreational activities and events. It has served more than 44,000 campers from 22 states and 28 foreign countries.

How novel that this recycling effort is not restricted by town or village boundaries. There are no rules about the weight of either the materials brought in or what week of the month it happens to be. It is a commercial venture with grass-roots benefits and should encourage mayors and town supervisors to look across the map for broader solutions.

Removing potentially hazardous electronics from the waste stream needs to be more strongly encouraged. Erie County holds periodic collection events that usually attract a big turnout. Education, awareness and individual compliance should be as normal as having your car inspected each year.

True, a handful of communities have partnered in bidding out garage and recycling totes, but how and when waste is collected remains inconsistent. Is it too much to ask to make this a regional process?

Sunnking is willing to try.

David F. Sherman is managing editor of Bee Group Newspapers and a columnist for the Weekly Independent Newspapers of Western New York, a group of community newspapers with a combined circulation of 286,500 readers. Opinions expressed here are those of the author. He can be reached at dsherman@beenews.com.
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