In early February, the sustainability-column team was feeling overwhelmed by all the no longer functional machines and computer equipment that were compounding a pesky clutter problem. Googling “e-waste disposal sites in Sacramento” directed us to several fee charging private businesses but also reminded us that there are free municipal-run options.
We decided to call 311 and learn more about the city’s Appliance and E-Waste Pickup program.
It was the right call. We secured a spot on the collection calendar for 10 days later, on Feb. 20. Even though that was a holiday (Presidents Day), the truck came by midmorning, and we said our final farewells to a dryer, waffle iron, two laptops and a rat’s nest of wires, plugs and adapters. Our closets became a bit less absurdly crowded.
All Sacramento residents are eligible for this service, which includes two free pickups per calendar year. (Additional pickups can be arranged for a reasonable—compared with the private businesses’ prices—fee.) Here’s what you can get rid of, responsibly, at no cost, each time:
• AS MANY AS TWO APPLIANCES. This could include an air conditioner, dehumidifier, dishwasher, freezer, furnace, hot water heater, microwave, oven, refrigerator, stove/range, trash compactor, washing machine, clothes dryer or water heater.
• AS MANY AS FOUR LARGE OR MEDIUM-SIZE E-WASTE ITEMS. Time to say goodbye to CRT monitors and TVs (CRT, LCD and LED), plasma and projection televisions, desktop and laptop PCs, servers, network and telecom equipment, printers, copiers, fax machines, multifunction devices, laser scanners, hard drives, computer peripherals, household appliances, vacuums, hair dryers, toasters, stereo equipment, small kitchen appliances, CD and tape players, and VCRs and DVD players.
• A BOX FULL OF ANY OF THIS STUFF, WHICH TOGETHER WOULD COUNT AS ONE OF THE FOUR E-WASTE ITEMS: calculators, telephones, cellphones and PDAs, digital cameras, speakers, electronic cables, video game consoles, car stereos, power cords and strips, keyboards and mice, printed circuit boards, power supply units and speakers.
The city says the following items are NOT ELIGIBLE for free pickup: household batteries, fluorescent lamps and bulbs, radioactive devices (smoke detectors, exit signs, thermostats), solar panels including landscape lights and lamps, biohazards (e.g., medical test kits, syringes, medical waste), hazardous household waste (pesticides, paint, used oil, cleaning supplies), items containing mercury (electric irons, thermostats, switches, broken lamps), pressurized containers (e.g., fire extinguishers, propane canisters, butane canisters), items containing adhered lithium batteries (e.g., hoverboards, Dyson vacuum, Samsung Galaxy 6 cellphones), excessive e-waste breakage, techno trash (e.g., CDs, VHS tapes and DVDs), household trash, recyclables and yard waste.
Keep in mind that whatever you want picked up has to be placed at the foot of your driveway, or in an otherwise easy-to-reach location by the street, by no later than 6 a.m. on the scheduled day. Also, be sure to either have scrubbed your computers of all sensitive personal information or be willing to accept the risk of some nefarious scavenger grabbing the device to extract and somehow exploit the data at your expense. It can happen, sadly.
Non-city residents can explore their options with Sacramento County by visiting its Electronic Waste (e-Waste)/Recycling webpage at www.saccounty.gov.