One of Santa Rosa’s oldest e-waste centers is closing its doors and going through significant changes this year. CRC Computer Center, located on Santa Rosa Avenue within 10 minutes of Sonoma State University, has been in business since the 1980s. Due to several management-related events, the recycling center has made the tough decision to turn its workers away and close after decades of establishment. Now, after closure, the future of the facility will be within the hands of one Sonoma State business student.
E-Waste recycling is becoming an increasingly necessary service in this age. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, “Americans throw out over 9 million tons of e-waste every year.” This number is expected to grow, just as it has over the last decade. Unfortunately, the EPA also estimates that consumers actually recycle only around 12% of e-waste. Part of this issue comes from a lack of locally accessible and well-known e-waste centers, as well as a lack of knowledge on electronics recycling. Many people do not understand that their electronics contain toxic chemicals and metals. These cause damage to the environment and take many years to break down. Throwing computers, printers or monitors into regular landfill waste or recycling garbage is not only against the law in many states, but it is downright dangerous. Batteries can explode when punctured causing fires, monitors can release harmful gases and glass shards, and some devices also contain mercury.
Many precious metals, such as gold, are used in the fabrication of electronics. When items like processors or phones end up in the landfill, metal recyclers are unable to recuperate these metals. This means we must then use more resources to gather these materials from the earth. This may seem insignificant on a small scale, but over time it adds up.
In Santa Rosa and Rohnert Park, very few local e-waste recycling facilities exist. Recology is one of the most significant waste handling services in the Bay Area. However, their facility near Sonoma State is often crowded with customers turning in non-e-waste trash, such as cans. This makes the situation less convenient for those just looking to drop off small e-waste items.
Some local companies also offer curbside e-waste pickup. This is very convenient, however some local residents expressed concern about leaving their items on the sidewalk. “You can’t be certain that your stuff is going to be safe out there, especially with all the data theft these days,'' said Bernadette, a local resident. “I would rather leave it somewhere knowing it won't be messed with”.
E-Waste Sonoma is a local company headed by Sonoma State business student Stephen Bishop. With CRC Computer Center closing down, Bishop hopes to use the pre-existing facility to expand his company to more nearby residents. “It is sad to see this business close, especially after all these years. However, I am excited to serve Sonoma County and provide a clean way to dispose of electronics. Shortly, we see this company not only serving Sonoma County but also expanding our services to the entire Bay Area”. .”
Bishop hopes to differentiate his company from other e-waste groups by establishing a system that keeps the electronics out of landfills altogether. Many electronics, especially laptop computers, can be refurbished and gain an extended lease of life for years to come. These refurbished machines help the community by providing cheaper and more eco-friendly options compared to buying new tech. Bishop’s company will also soon create many job opportunities for young people interested in IT. E-Waste Sonoma is expected to open on Santa Rosa Avenue starting on Nov. 1.