GLRPPR: Projects Database
Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable
Promoting Pollution Prevention Through Information Exchange
About Us
E-Mail This Page
Funding Opps
Region 5 Project Summaries
Sector Resources
Topic Hubs™
Conferences & Training
Ask a Librarian
Mailing List

Projects Database

Erie County Pilot Computer Recycling Project

Project Information

Award Amount:$30,000.00
Dollars Leveraged:$19,220.00
Start-End Dates:10/1/01-12/31/03
Erie County (NY) Department of Environment and Planning hosted two computer collection events in conjunction with the household hazardous waste collection events in Erie County, New York. It was anticipated that 200 to 500 computers would be diverted from the municipal waste stream.

Proper dismantling and recycling of the computers reduces environmental loadings of lead, which is categorized by U.S. EPA as a persistent bioaccumulative toxic pollutant (PBT). Other pollutants of concern related to the disposal of computers include mercury, cadmium and phosphorus.

Erie County Department of Environmental Planning (DEP) has previously assisted the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) with outreach and education activities associated with their Automotive Mercury Switch Project. Through its outreach activities, Erie County DEP has established relationships with a number of the automotive salvage yards. Through this program, Erie County has continued to build on this cooperative association by coordinating with NYSDEC to collect and dispose of automotive mercury switches from vehicles prior to crushing and shredding operations within Erie County.

Environmental Results/Products:
Erie County DEP ultimately hosted eleven collection events that took place one week following the scheduled household hazardous waste collection events. The first two collection events were held at the University of Buffalo, and the third was held at a shopping plaza in West Seneca, New York.

Erie county paid two electronic recycling companies to collect and recycle the materials collected at the eleven community collection events. Costs for recycling computer monitors ranged from $4.70 to $7.50 per monitor and $0.00 to $2.00 per central processing unit (CPU), printer and other small electronics.

Promotion of the events was the most challenging element. Local television and radio stations were contacted. E-mail listservs, and distribution of flyers through the village offices, public libraries and Erie County Fair were also used to advertise the events. County legislators conducted a mailing to promote the second event.

A live television segment was broadcast from the first collection event held at the University of Buffalo. Many people who saw the television spot came to the event. Overall, advertising in the local Pennysavers and Buffalo News newspaper was the most effective method of promotion of the events, followed by television, then radio.

Electronics Collected:
Monitors: 5348
CPU’s: 4310
Scanner: 47
Mice: 255
Printers: 7079
Keyboards: 488
Laptops: 13
Faxes: 5
Peripherals: 17357

Attendees: 4251

Each automotive mercury switch in a vehicle contains ~1 gram of mercury; each switch removed represents the equivalent of nearly 25 times the quantity of mercury contained in a 4-foot fluorescent light tube. The switches are easily removed, typically in about one minute per switch.

NYSDEC partnered with Valvoline Instant Oil Change Center, Monro Muffler, and Mr. Oil Change and Erie County DEC to support collection and recycling of the automotive mercury switches. The participating automotive service providers offered customers the option of replacing the automotive mercury switch in their trunk and/or hood lighting mechanism with a mercury-free ball bearing type switch. The automotive service centers supplied in-kind service to the public. The replacement option was voluntary by the customer at the point of delivery.

Erie County Mercury Program staff visited 58 automobile recycling facilities in Erie and Niagara Counties to collect 1891 mercury switches the recyclers had removed from vehicles. Each recycler received an educational package at the Spring 2001 site visit. The information included instructions for proper removal of the switches from vehicles. It also included details on how to replace the mercury switch with a mercury free switch should they wish to do so for resale purposes and an updated list of vehicles that contain mercury switch lighting mechanisms.

At the fall collections, each recycling facility received a labeled, DOT approved plastic container and shipping box for mercury switches. The container will hold 450 switches, a quantity in compliance with conditionally exempt small quantity hazardous waste generator rules. The recyclers can ship the switches for recover via UPS for $4000. The Automobile Recyclers Association will be offsetting the recycling cost.


  • Promotional Flyers
  • Vehicle recycler educational package
  • Web Page

Funding Organizations

Below is a list of organizations with individual contacts that are funding this project.

U.S. EPA Great Lakes National Program Office - Primary Contact

77 W Jackson Blvd
Chicago, Illinois 60604
There are no individuals in this organization
associated with this project.

Organizations Receiving Funding

Below is a list of organizations with individual contacts that are receiving funding for this project.

Erie County Department of Environment and Planning - Primary Contact

95 Franklin Street
Buffalo, New York 14202
p: 716-858-7674
f: 716-858-7713
There are no individuals in this organization
associated with this project.

Associated Organizations

Below is a list of associated organizations that are NOT giving or receiving funding for this project.

Monro Muffler Shops - Partner

3000 W Henrietta Rd
Rochester, New York p: (585) 424-2400

Mr. Oil Change - Partner

1725 Hertel Avenue
Buffalo, New York 14216
p: 716-835-3600

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation - Partner

625 Broadway
Albany, New York 12233-1750
p: 518-402-9469

Valvoline Instant Oil Change - Partner

2199 E Henrietta Rd
Rochester, New York p: (585) 334-6590


Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable (GLRPPR)
One East Hazelwood Drive Champaign, IL 61820
(217) 333-8940

University of Illinios Privacy Notice