Disposing your high-tech trash: cheaper and somewhat convenient


In last week’s Strib: Minnesota’s E-waste: Talking high-tech trash.

Amid hot sales of new digital TV sets, computers, DVD players and other gear, old electronics are piling up – but there are options for recycling.

Waste Management’s Northfield office has an electronics recycling webpage and it says it’s 1510 South Highway 3 location is a drop-off site for e-waste. But it doesn’t say what it charges.

 Rice County’s waste website links to this e-waste flyer (PDF) which says:

It’s easy and inexpensive to recycle electronic waste in Rice County. Just bring it to the Recycling Center, 3800 East 145th Street, 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (Mon.-Fri.) and 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. (Sat.).

  • Household computers, printers, home stereos, radios, games, are recycled for free.ewaste-flyer-sshot
  • Household computers, printers, home stereos, radios, games, are recycled for free.
  • Monitors, TVs, and flat panel displays cost just $5 each, reduced last year from $15 by the County Board to encourage residents to recycle them.
  • Businesses with electronics may contract directly with a recycler or bring them to the Rice County facility for a disposal rate of $0.40 per pound.
  • Cell phones, small rechargeable devices, and rechargeable batteries are free for disposal at the Household Hazardous Waste Facility (Open every Wednesday from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and the 2nd & 4th Saturdays of each month from 7:30 to 11:30 a.m.)

That last bullet item is maddening. I’ve driven to the Landfill several times to dispose of fluorescent light bulbs and batteries etc, only to be told it was the wrong Saturday. AAARRRGGGHHH!

Alas, none of this information is on the City of Northfield’s garbage and recycling page.  You wouldn’t know that we’ve changed to single-sort recycling by reading that page either. AAARRRGGGHHH!


  1. The e-Waste is a problem, but it seems manageable. We have a much broader waste problem that really bothers in me in Rice County: the absence of any kind of recycling for #5 plastics and non-bottle-shaped #1 and #2 plastics, and the lack of curbside composting.

    The composting is a little more obscure, so I’ll start with the plastics (1, 2, and 5). There’s a huge amount of food that comes in these containers — yoghurt, cottage cheese, margarine, hummus, peanut butter — and all of it is being landfilled. This is a real shame.

    Rice County does not have the facilities to process these plastics, but they’re certainly not unheard of. I wrote Carleton back in October to ask what they did with their #5 plastics, and I was informed that their recycling is sent to a Waste Management facility in the Twin Cities where a wider variety of plastics are accepted (including the ones mentions here).

    So why can’t Rice County accept these plastics and send the stuff they can’t process elsewhere? Or why can’t stores who sell these containers (I’m talking to you, Econo, Cub, and Just Food) offer a collection in the way they do for plastic bags?

    On composting, there’s been some progress made. In the last five years or so, Carleton, St. Olaf, and Northfield Public Schools have begun composting food waste. But I have a feeling that almost all residential compost ends up in the trash. Rice County has composting facilities already. Would it be prohibitively expensive/difficult to expand those and offer curbside pickup of compostables?

    PS: On e-Waste, I know Menards accepts CFLs, and they probably take tube fluorescents as well.

    January 1, 2009
  2. One last thing: there is some praise due for Rice County. The lowered rates for e-Waste disposal have affected my own habits — I had a pile of old computer towers sitting in my parents’ basement, and was finally compelled to dispose of them since the fee was eliminated (it was previously $10/ea, which adds up for any junk-hoarding nerd).

    Also, of course, the move to single-stream recycling was a commendable action of the Commissioners. Surprisingly and pleasingly progressive of them.

    January 1, 2009
  3. Stephanie Henriksen said:


    The converter box to our satellite TV system had to be replaced. I called Direct TV to ask how to dispose of the old box and they said to just dump it in the trash. Is that correct, Sean?

    January 2, 2009
  4. Stephanie,
    Those converter boxes probably do not contain enough harmful material that you would not be allowed to put it in the trash (like a monitor or television). However, just because it’s legal doesn’t mean it’s the right choice. There is probably a decent amount of usable metal and silicone, so I’d recommend bringing it to an e-Waste collection event or bring it the recycling center the next time you have some other e-Waste to get rid of.

    January 2, 2009
  5. Paul Fried said:

    I share your frustration regarding poor communication via the city web pages on this and other matters. If the city has a library board, an EDA, etc., perhaps there should also be some kind of board or committee that reviews web communications and passes on feedback regarding needs to revise pages and ease of use.

    January 3, 2009
  6. Carl Arnold said:

    I’ve often been discouraged from recycling some items because I’d have to drive out to the landfill. For example, I have some paint containers that I’d really like to recycle, but I’ve never gotten around to it because it isn’t convenient. I know that they have had electronics drives out at the landfill, but I think it would be useful/helpful to have a monthly, or even just once or twice a year, temporary drop off station right in Northfield. Do they already do this and I’ve just missed it?

    January 5, 2009

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