Reduce, reuse, recycle: State law revises donation rules for electronics

Goodwill will soon accept some electronics for resell or recycle. Federal Way Goodwill employee George Amoako, pictured, currently tests items such as televisions and answers customers
Goodwill will soon accept some electronics for resell or recycle. Federal Way Goodwill employee George Amoako, pictured, currently tests items such as televisions and answers customers' questions about the electronics goods the store sells.
— image credit: Jacinda Howard/The Mirror

It's in with the new and out with the old.

For many, the holidays brought new possessions. But now it's time to figure out what to do with what you replaced.

Several local options for getting rid of old clothing, furniture and household goods exist. A new state law will also provide places to drop off old electronics anytime of the year.

The Salvation Army and Goodwill accept used clothing, furniture and household items. However, items must be only slightly used.

"If you would give it to a friend, then you can give it to us," said Matthew Erlich, spokesman for Goodwill Tacoma, which operates in 15 Washington counties.

Clothing items may also be donated to the Multi-Service Center's clothing bank in Federal Way. Donations go to local residents. Payment for the items will not be issued, but the gift is tax deductible.

In January, Goodwill will begin accepting some electronics on a regular basis through E-Cycle Washington. The state program pays agencies to accept televisions, computers, computer monitors and laptops that are later recycled. The Salvation Army is not part of the program and does not accept items considered hazardous waste.

In the past, Goodwill on occasion accepted the items, but had to pay to dispose of them, Erlich said. Now, the state will pay the store to act as a drop-off center like any other donation. If the items are in working condition, they will be resold. If they do not work, they will be recycled. Keyboards, computer mice and other accessories will not be recycled through the program, but will be accepted for resale.

"To be able to participate in E-Cycle Washington is just continuing our mission to reduce, reuse and recycle," Erlich said.

E-Cycle will help Goodwill fulfill its mission of providing money for job training and programs while simultaneously giving residents an ongoing location for responsibly disposing of some electronics. Recycling is free to residents, small businesses, school districts, small governments and charities.

"It's not just a one-day thing," Erlich said. "This is going from Jan. 2 on."

Another option for disposing of electronics is American Electronics Recycling Corporation. The company has a drop-off center in Kent and accepts items such as computer monitors, game consoles, printers, microwaves, cameras, televisions and more. The goods are then recycled. Fees apply and residential prices range from $2 per diagonal inch for televisions to $10 for microwaves and modems. Customers may also choose to have AER pick up items for $30 to $40. Before dropping off personal computers or laptops with any recycle or disposal company, make sure to erase all personal information, Erlich said.

Federal Way and other King County cities also hold free hazardous waste recycling events throughout the year to allow residents to dispose of items that are unsafe to throw in the garbage. The "wastemobile" events will take place in March and September 2009. Items that can now be dropped off at Goodwill will no longer be accepted at the hazardous waste events, said Jeanette Brizendine, City of Federal Way Solid Waste and Recycling project manager. Starting in spring, a hazardous waste event will be held weekly at the Auburn SuperMall, she said.

Cell phones are another item that does not need to be thrown away. They may be donated at Federal Way City Hall, 33325 8th St. S., in the lobby area. The phones will be given to domestic violence victims to call for emergency help. Web sites such as Craigslist and eBay are options for those looking to make some money off of old items.

"In the reduce, reuse, recycle theory, it truly is a hierarchy," Brizendine said. "If you can reuse something... it's even better than recycling."


Check it out

For more information on what to do with old electronics, household goods, clothing and other items:

• Visit King County Waste Management's "What do I do With...?" Web site at

• Call (800) SA-TRUCK (728-7825) to arrange a Salvation Army pick up or to find the nearest drop-off location.

• Visit the Salvation Army's Web site at

• Visit the Multi-Service center's Web site at or call (253) 838-6810.

• Visit the American Electronics Recycling Web site at or call (888) 880-1254.

• Visit E-Cycle Washington's Web site at or call (800) RECYCLE.

• Visit Goodwill's Web site at

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