Wisconsin News

Scavengers making e-waste litter problems worse

LA CROSSE, Wis. -- There are growing concerns about the amount of e-waste littered in our area.

A state law requires old electronics and appliances to be properly recycled. Since it went into effect last September, however, many people are choosing to ignore it.

That means more and more people are seeing old TV's and computers left near a dumpster in their neighborhoods.

"There's glass shattered. There's plastic all over the place. It's a real hazard to the public," said Justin Grantin, the general manager at Harter's Quick Clean-Up.

Grantin says crews are still seeing tons of old electronics left out on the curb. They're items garbage pick-up companies are no longer allowed to take.

"They're setting it out thinking our drivers are going to come down the alley and pick it up," said Grantin.

When that doesn't happen, the items still sit on the street.


It has led to another problem. Officials say scavengers are routinely busting up the pieces looking for parts they can sell. One of the more valuable items they're after is the copper yoke in old television sets.

"They're going to scrap yards, turning that copper in and getting money out of it. It's free money every time you see a TV," said Grantin.

We checked with Alter Metal Recycling in La Crosse.

Manager Andy Polhamus says you can sell copper right now for about 27-cents per pound. That means one TV could be worth several dollars to a scavenger.

"They're breaking things out and leaving the carcasses and that's just littering is all it is," said Andy Niles, the vice president at Scientific Recyclers in Holmen.

Niles says there are so many opportunities right now to scavenge electronics because of the number of items being left in the street.

"The big problem is that people don't understand why they have to pay to recycle," said Niles.

Scientific Recyclers is one of the places in our area right now where you can recycle your old electronics for free. The only item the company does not take is TV's.

If you choose to recycle at La Crosse County's hazardous waste site, it will cost you 10-cents per pound.

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