Recycling act focuses on safe electronics use

Companies who work closely with Research Park met Tuesday to discuss the implications of the Electronic Products Recycling and Reuse Act, a state law that went into effect Jan. 1 and mandates proper electronics recycling.

Electronic devices such as televisions, monitors, laptops and cell phones need to be collected by registered electronic manufacturers when usage is done. The purpose of the law is to prevent further pollution and to reuse the metals for a greater good, according to Maggie Carson, the communications manager of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.

Michael Mervis, director of Mervis Industries, was the keynote speaker at the discussion. Attendees were able to ask him their questions about the recycling process, which is the responsibility of the electronics manufacturer.

Mervis said companies understanding the process is important not only because of the new law but also so that data can be kept secure. He gave attendees information on how to erase data to ensure security.

“If you are concerned, you can wipe off the hard drive on your own,” he said.

At Mervis Industries, for example, users can send in their old electronics to be recycled, and the company will attach a tracker that shows what stage a product is at in the process. The trackers are used to ensure security on devices that contain personal data.

Tom Falender, marketing director of Mervis Industries, said used electronics will be used in various ways.

“We take the electronics and we either recycle or refurbish them,” Falender said.

The event was an opportunity for companies to learn how to promote a green community, said Laura Bleill, marketing coordinator of Research Park.

“Mervis presented an interesting perspective on the world of electronic recycling — it is not just as simple as picking something up and putting it in the box,” Bleill said. “It was not only informative to learn about the ins and outs of the recycling business but also why it is important to recycle electronics.”

Alan Singleton, attorney and founder of Singleton Law Firm, attended the event and said the topic was relevant to him.

“Making sure that things are properly recycled and no confidential data is improperly disclosed — those are very important issues for myself because I practice law and deal with confidential information of clients.”

Mervis said participants were responsive and he was glad to inform the public.

“We were excited to have an audience that was interested and asked very good questions,” he said.

Students with questions or concerns about electronics recycling are invited to attend another event on April 21 at Research Park.