?I didn't want to just throw them away'

By Ed Brock

Arthur Phillips and his family had essentially collected 10 cell phones over the years, but on Saturday it was time for him to get rid of them.

So he brought them to the Atlanta State Farmer's Market in Forest Park, along with some old stereo equipment, and gave them to MOLAM Industries E-Cycling program.

"I didn't want to just throw them away," Phillips said.

It was what organizers hope to be the first of many computer and electronic product recycling events. MOLAM Industries President Nader Nejad and volunteers with Keep South Fulton County Clean and Beautiful, Keep Clayton County Clean and Beautiful and Keep East Point Clean and Beautiful were on hand at the event to collect the computers, monitors, keyboards and more.

By the time Phillips dropped off his phones and stereo equipment, nearly 70 cars had come by to drop off some 5,400 pounds of electronics.

"We have done just under half a truckload but we're at just halfway through the day," Nejad said.

By the end of the day they had collected an estimated 7,000 pounds of product.

Nejad's company is a "closed-loop" recycling agent. That means they start with the basic material from which they create and market an entirely new, recycled product where other recycling companies only handle one part of the recycling process.

The computers and other items are broken down, and still usable parts are extracted for resell. The computer chips are recovered. From the remainder, precious metals like gold and silver and base metals like copper, aluminum and steel are collected.

The plastic is shredded and made into "plastic lumber."

"We go from fully functional items to commodities," Nejad said.

Those who came to contribute items on Saturday came for a variety of reasons. Some, like Phillips and Alicia Walker, both of East Point, brought unwanted electronics. Walker brought a computer that had been sitting on a desk in her house for some time and which she wanted to get rid of to make way for a new machine.

She saw an ad for the event in the newspaper.

"This was a good opportunity. It made me motivated to do it," Walker said.

Ricardo Sandobar from Forest Park brought an old copier from the business where he works.

"My boss told me to bring it here," Sandobar said. "It doesn't work any more."

Event organizers Judy Noles with Keep South Fulton Clean and Beautiful and Cem Drake with Keep East Point Clean and Beautiful said they were counting on donations from small businesses.

"Employees are going to their IT departments and saying ?What can I recycle?' and they're doing it on their own time," Drake said.

Noles said these programs are especially important in the rural areas on the south side of Atlanta in order to discourage illegal dumping.

"We're here to teach people and remind them to be responsible in disposing of their electronics," Noles said.

The organizers said whether they held other events in the future depends on how well things went on Saturday, but Drake said that the people he met on Saturday seemed receptive and some had asked that the collections be held twice a year.

For more information on MOLAM Industries, go to www.MOLAM.net.