Electronic recycling company fills void

Last September, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Bureau of Waste and Materials Management issued a rule that banned certain types of electronics from being disposed of in landfills or incinerated. At the same time, counties and municipalities must decide whether or not to continue their recycling programs since Gov. Scott Walker has proposed an elimination of the recycling program mandate and state funding for recycling.

As a result of the changes in state recycling policy, businesses and consumers more than ever need a place to dispose of their old electronics. Dale Helgeson, president of Elkhorn-based DP Electronic Recycling Inc., wants his company to be that place.

“We opened our facility here in Elkhorn back in August of 2010,” Helgeson said. “A lot of community recycling programs were doing ‘e-cycling’ pickups on specified days during the year, but we wanted to be specifically geared toward helping business and consumers with their electronic recycling needs year round.”

If it plugs into the wall or runs on batteries, DP Electronic Recycling will take it, Helgeson said.

The company will accept old or worn out electronic equipment of any kind and will break it down into its recoverable components like plastic, steel, aluminum, copper, silver and gold.

The company makes money by selling the raw materials that it recovers from the discarded electronic equipment. In the case of some computers, the company can wipe out the hard drives and refurbish them for resale, Helgeson said.

“Our company is designed to be a full service electronic recycling company and we have a variety of different types and levels of services to meet the needs of our customers,” Helgeson said.

The company works directly with businesses and school districts but also services individual consumers as well. The company provides full service electronic recycling, data destruction as well as asset management for companies, Helgeson said.

Consumers and businesses also have the opportunity to either sell or purchase used and refurbished electronic equipment from the facility.

The DNR ban on dumping electronic devices in landfills is still in effect regardless of the proposed state budget recycling cuts, Helgeson said.

“People will still need to find a place to correctly dispose of their electronic equipment, even if their city or municipality no longer offers that program,” he said.

Many counties and municipalities, including Walworth County where DP Electronic Recycling is located, have already said they will no longer offer special pick up days for electronic waste, Helgeson said.

Helegson is in negotiations with several municipalities and counties in the area, including Walworth County, to form a partnership that allows his company to host an electronic recycling day for residents, he said.

“We are prepared to partner with municipalities and host a pick up day free of charge,” Helgeson said.

Helgeson doesn’t expect the state budget to affect his business much. If communities eliminate recycling programs, his company will pick up the disposed recycled materials free of charge.

Unlike traditional recycling, where municipal facilities could sell collected materials such as glass, aluminum and paper for meltdown and reuse, electronic recycling usually offers no real monetary benefit for the municipality or county because local governments lack the volume and resources to break down and recover raw materials from discarded electronics, Helgeson said.

“If a county or municipality previously offered an electronic recycling program they probably did it as a convenience to residents,” he said. “The recycling component of the budget will most likely only affect programming like pick up and drop off opportunities and potentially the convenience for consumers.”

DP Electronic Recycling works directly with businesses as long term clients, but also caters to the consumer by having a drop off point and the ability to do scheduled electronic waste pick up, he said

“We get a lot of requests from people to come and pick up electronics, mostly elderly who either can’t lift something or don’t have the vehicle to transport it to the drop off spot,” he said.

DP Electronic Recycling will charge a disposal fee for electronic recycling based on mileage and weight of materials collected.

Free Electronic Recycling Day

DP Electronic Recycling Inc. will hold a Free Electronic Recycling Day on Saturday, April 16, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at its headquarters, 540 E. Centralia St., Elkhorn. All electronics will be accepted for free, but in-kind donations for SMILES, a nonprofit equestrian organization for children and adults with disabilities, will be collected. For more information visit www.dpecycle.com.

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