Collection Event for Computers and Electronics

If a community or organization is planning to collect computers/electronics from the public and businesses as part of a community wide recycling effort, there are several things that need to be done in the planning process.
  • Ensure that prior to organizing the event, there is a location to where the computers and electronics can be taken for recycling. The Recycling and Solid Waste Reduction Program at MDEQ at 601/961-5036 may be able to assist in providing a directory of recyclers of computers and electronics. Click here to view this directory.
  • Ensure that the organization can find a minimum of 10- 20 volunteers to help at the event. The number of volunteers needed is larger for larger communities.
  • Plan ahead for a rain-day. Secure the same or another site in case the planned event is rained out and have signs and promotional materials prepared for this.
  • Provide plenty of time for announcing the event to the media, residents of the community, businesses and others to be included in the collection event. Contact schools, churches, and chamber of commerce to help get the word out.
  • Provide flyers detailing the event that can be placed in mail-outs to the public, at major electronics stores, or at other locations where the public will shop. Provide banners (3’X10′) at major intersections.
  • If possible, setup as much as can be done the afternoon/night prior to the event. This will help to avoid confusion and last minute issues and problems on the morning of the event.
  • Plan to have some of the volunteers arrive well in advance in case some people arrive prior to the actual time for acceptance of the electronics.
  • Use local volunteers to help in the collection event. Local scout troops could be solicited and the event used by one or more scouts in an effort to get their Eagle Scout Badge. Rotary or Lions Clubs or other civic or church organizations are other options.
  • The collection site needs to have a sizeable parking lot such as a church, shopping center or stadium area. This will allow traffic flow to move one way starting from the entrance area through the collection area and out through the exit area. Traffic cones and brightly colored high strength tape should be used to keep the traffic confined to this traffic flow area and to prevent premature exiting or worst, turning around into the flow of traffic. The traffic flow area should be of sufficient width to allow a car to pass another vehicle within the collection areas, but narrow enough to prevent someone from turning around.
  • There should be one or two volunteers near the entrance area and another at the exit area to help direct drivers arriving/departing.
  • There should be two volunteers at a neutral area between the entrance area and collection area to briefly make contact with the driver. These volunteers should be stationed far enough from the entrance area so that cars and trucks arriving to the event do not become backed up on the street from which they are turning off. At this station the volunteer(s) should briefly quiz the driver on what specifically they are bringing for recycling, provide the driver with a “Recycling Education Flyer,” instruct the driver to unlock the area of the vehicle where the electronics are located and request that the drive remain in their vehicle at all times and allow the volunteers to unload the equipment. The volunteer(s) can then direct the driver towards the electronics unloading area.
  • Drivers would then move to the electronics unloading area where various volunteers would remove only computers, faxes/printers/scanners/laptops, video recorders/CD players/audio equipment and computer cabling. In addition, cardboard boxes that some of the electronics are in should be removed at this point for recycling or cutting up.
  • Computers and monitors should be processed and stored on pallets. Laptops, scanners, printers/faxes should be processed and stored in Gaylord boxes on pallets; video recorders/CD players/audio equipment should be processed and stored in Gaylord boxes on pallets; and cabling/keyboards and other similar hardware should be processed and stored in Gaylord boxes on pallets.
  • Volunteers manning each of the processing areas and collection trailers should take electronics being handed to them by other volunteers and place the electronic device on pallets or in Gaylord boxes located beside or in the trailer. Storage of computer CPUs are best when placed directly on pallets and then shrink-wrapped after 40 CPU’s are in place. The pallet can then be loaded with a fork-lift into the trailer. When wrapping the shrink-wrap around the pallet of CPU’s, start the wrap at the pallet on one of the corner edges to ensure there is a place for it to grab onto. Then begin to wrap horizontally around the pallet of CPU’s and slightly overlapping the previous wrap until you get to the top. Then repeat the procedure back down to the bottom of the pallet and end at one of the corners. Do this same procedure with separate pallets of monitors. Computer monitors should be loaded onto pallets with the glass facing down, the base of the monitor directed in towards the interior of the pallet, the power cord still attached and placed towards the center of the pallet and a layer of cardboard between each layer of monitors including the bottom layer. Generally, 36 monitors can be stored on one pallet. For detailed information on processing and stocking equipment on pallets, contact us.
  • Volunteers unloading the electronics from the vehicle and transporting them to the volunteers at the processing area and collection trailer should only be doing that activity. That way each person has an assigned duty and the process flows efficiently. At some point there may be a decision to have volunteers switch assignments. This should only be done if they are fully aware of what the new job is they will be doing so to keep everything consistent and uniform.
  • Once the vehicle is unloaded of all computers and electronics, the driver should be directed towards one of the volunteers near the exit area.
  • Two volunteers near the exit area should ask the driver to voluntarily answer 4 or 5 quick questions regarding the recycling collection event. Upon conclusion of the questions, the volunteer would direct the driver to the exit and thank the driver for their participation. This can also be done while the driver is stopped at the unloading area.
  • The event should be held on a Saturday and occur from 8:00am to 2:00pm.
Advance Planning Needs
  • Notify city hall and the police department that the event is being conducted and again the day prior to the event.
  • Plan in advance for a rain-day and use this on all advertisements.
    • In large communities where a heavy turnout is expected, consider hiring off-duty police officers for traffic control and security.
    • Ensure that a minimum of 10-20 volunteers are available to assist at the event.
Traffic Control Needs
  • Acquire the usage of a large parking lot for the event
  • Traffic cones – 2 each for every 8 feet of the driving area from the entrance to the exit
  • Traffic control tape (orange/yellow) – to mark off areas or control/limit traffic activity in various areas of the event
  • Signage for entrance and exit areas – there should be a sign for both the entrance and exit area of the event and the sign should be marked on both sides
  • Large sign(s) at the road alerting the public of the event
  • Location for volunteers to park their vehicles at a safe distance away from the event
On-site Processing Needs
  • Shrink-wrap – 100 mil @ 20″ x 1000′, 2 roller/handles
  • Gaylord boxes – 10 or 12 – these are heavy duty corrugated boxes that are approximately 3′ X 3′ X 4′
  • Wooden Pallets – 40″ x 48″
  • Fork-lift and pallet jack,
  • Heavy duty nylon tape
  • Masking tape
  • Gloves for those unloading and processing the electronics
  • Safety vest
  • Utility knives (2 to 3) and extra blades to cut apart cardboard boxes – cardboard sheets the size of a pallet should be used between each layer of computer monitors.
  • Trailers for storage of computers/electronics – 28 foot trailer or 53 foot trailer
  • Signs on Gaylord boxes – Computers Only, Faxes/Printers, Scanners/Laptops Only, Misc. Equipment only; Cabling/keyboards/mice only; and Monitors Only. NOTE: It is preferable to place electronic units on pallets and shrink-wrap rather than putting them into boxes. Computer cabling and other hardware can be collected and stored in boxes.
  • Three or four 55-gallon drum trash receptacles in collection areas
  • Small wagons – to place electronics into from vehicles so they can be quickly and safely transported to the processing area
Personnel Needs
  • Folding chairs for volunteers in each of the areas and for the lunch area
  • Folding tables for snacks, drinks and from which to eat (5 or 6 tables)
  • First aid kit, sunblock, insect repellent
  • Water, sodas and snacks for volunteers
  • Lunch for volunteers
  • Ice chests or large plastic buckets for icing down water and sodas
  • Bags of ice
  • Hats and T-shirts for volunteers
  • Port-A-John (2 or 3) or other bathroom facilities
  • Tarped area for volunteers on sunny or rainy days
  • Paper towels and disinfectant wipes
Supply Needs
  • Fact sheet on electronics recycling – to be given to drivers as they enter
  • Educational flyer on recycling – to be given to drivers as they enter
  • Clipboards and pens – provided to volunteers doing exit surveys
  • Exit survey (250 copies) – This is a survey of about 4 or 5 short questions to be filled out by the volunteer and questions provided verbally to the driver and them responding before exiting
  • Gaylord boxes – One for recycling cardboard, and one for trash
  • Name tags
  • Trash bags
  • Colored plastic tape, masking tape and duct tape – several rolls
  • Free new computer for lucky participant (optional)
  • Recycling bins for aluminum cans and plastic soda bottles generated by volunteers
  • Camera and film to document event
  • Colored magic markers
  • Information sheet for recording the quantities of each type of electronic delivered to the event
  • Tools – Flathead and Phillips screwdrivers and pliers.

This information was developed by the Recycling and Solid Waste Reduction Program at the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality. Questions or comments can be directed to (601) 961-5171.