Saturday, April 4, 2020
April 4, 2020

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Energy Adviser: Recycling halts hidden hazards


Not long ago, on 99th Street in Hazel Dell, a well-intended resident placed a projection-screen television at the curb accompanied by a “FREE” sign. For several weeks, the brownish, square box stood in sun and rain awaiting a rescuer. Free just wasn’t a good enough offer for this relic.

But, it didn’t go unnoticed. Someone broke its screen. Another crashed the CRT inside, unknowingly releasing poisons — lead, mercury and cadmium — into our water system. Eventually the beleaguered box disappeared.

According to the Washington State Department of Ecology, 90 percent of us have a recycling center within 10 miles of our home.

There are six locations within 5 miles of Hazel Dell. This projection TV could have been easily and safely recycled. Properly disposing of outdated electronics is important, because they often contain materials toxic to our environment and hazardous to our health.

Not knowing what can be recycled and where is no longer an excuse. As the cliché goes, “there’s an app for that.” To get the RecycleRight Vancouver app, visit and click on the Google Play (for Android) or App Store (for Apple) to download it. Anyone who doesn’t want to download the app can use the form on the page to get all the same information.

These resources include an A-Z listing that allows you to search for any product you’d like to recycle. This is helpful not only for electronics but also for disposing properly the other wastes you don’t want around, from aerosol cans to weed whackers.

Washington hit a milestone of 300 million pounds of TVs, monitors and computers collected in 2015. More than 3 million pounds came from Clark County. Ninety-eight percent of this state total was recycled.

Clark Public Utilities participates in recycling programs, too. The utility invites customers to “trade-in” burned out screw-in Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs for new LED bulbs at any location. And fluorescent tubes can be recycled at the utility’s 100 Columbia Way location. Vancouver’s Central Transfer and Recovery Center, West Van Materials Recovery Center and Washougal Transfer Station all recycle CFLs too, as do many local retailers.

This combined effort is in compliance with a 2013 Washington law requiring CFL and fluorescent tube manufacturers to keep them out of landfills because they contain mercury.

Done with an old full-size refrigerator or freezer that still works? The utility can help with that, too. Customers who recycle old refrigerators and freezers through the utility receive $20 off their electric bill.

To schedule a pickup day and arrange for the $20 credit, call 360-992-3000. Then on the scheduled date, make sure the appliance is in the driveway and easily accessible. A recycling truck will safely pick it up and the credit will be applied to the utility account.

Safe recycling of fridges and freezers is important because those manufactured before 1995 typically contain chlorofluorocarbon refrigerant. Fluorocarbon released into the environment depletes the earth’s ozone layer. Fridges and freezers also contain other pollutants, including oil, PCBs and mercury. Properly decommissioning them keeps noxious pollutants from seeping into our soil and water.

As old devices and appliances wear out and need replacing, remember to compare the costs to power the replacement in addition to the purchase price when shopping.

Sometimes the energy savings over time makes a more efficient model a better deal in the long-run because of the lower energy use.

Energy Adviser is written by Clark Public Utilities. Send questions to or to Energy Adviser, c/o Clark Public Utilities, P.O. Box 8900, Vancouver, WA 98668.