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Dali Bar begins free community e-waste recycling program

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Do you ever get a sinking feeling in your stomach when you throw away some ancient piece of electronic equipment that has long outlived its usefulness? "Where is this going to end up?", you might ask yourself, and "What will happen to all the chemicals inside of it?" Or perhaps you're like me and have an entire drawer full of old mobile phones, lithium batteries, obsolete graphics cards and other stuff that you don't know what to do with.

There are collectors roaming around Kunming who will accept some types of old electronics — and maybe even pay a bit of cash for them. But I personally have serious reservations about giving e-waste to these collectors because it's very hard to know what is going to happen to the waste or to have any guarantee that leftover dangerous chemicals will not just be chucked into the trash after the most valuable substances have been stripped out of it.

According to Greenpeace, mobile phones and other electronics commonly contain "Heavy metals such as lead, mercury, cadmium and beryllium, as well as hazardous chemicals, such as brominated flame retardants. Polluting PVC plastic is also frequently used." Some of these substances bio-accumulate in the tissues of humans and other animals, building up over time and not flushing easily from our systems.

For several years I have been looking into whether officially-sanctioned e-waste recycling centers exist anywhere in Kunming, and each time I have come up with nothing. If I am wrong and there are places here in town that can properly dispose of this junk, please feel free to contact me.

Finally, I started to cast the net further afield. Shipping is not terribly expensive in China, so I figured maybe I could send my drawer of e-waste to another city for proper disposal. I eventually found a company called Banana Peel. It is an electronic waste startup that comes to people's home in select Chinese cities and carts away their old electronics. In exchange, they offer credits that can be used to buy things in their marketplace. They state that the electronics thus acquired will be properly disposed of in a fully licensed Beijing facility.

Many certificates, including a ISO 14000 registrations and an electronic waste recycling certificate from the Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau, are on display on their website. It seems this was the best to be done in China in terms of properly recycling these items. Unfortunately, they do not offer a pickup service in Kunming. So I contacted their helpline and after explaining my situation to them, they provided me with a shipping address in Beijing where I could send my items to be recycled.

I have already successfully sent a test batch of my personal items to them. Now I would like to open this channel up to the Kunming community. As of today, we've placed a cardboard box at Salvador's Coffee House where people can deposit select old electronics to be recycled. My company, Dali Bar, will donate the costs of shipping to Beijing.

For now, we're going to keep things simple. Only smaller items will be accepted — no televisions or full tower computers yet. In the future we can consider helping to facilitate the recycling of larger items and maybe add more drop off locations. I'm looking forward to seeing your old crap soon!

The following items are currently being accepted for recycling:

• Lithium batteries
• Mobile phones
• Tablet computers
• Laptop Computers
• Chargers/Cables
• Computer boards/cards (graphics cards, CPUs, motherboards, etc.)
• Disk drives
• Small-sized peripherals (mouse, headphones, webcams)
• Routers and modems

Image: International Business Times

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Good work, Dan!

Great! Thanks for putting it up.

Do they also accept scooter and e-bike parts?

I mean not through Salvador, perhaps. I guess they wouldn't like their café to be an 'old scooter storage'.

But since every idiot is hailing Tesla's and e-mobility, and forgetting that they riding toxic waste and mountains of carbon fumes around, it would be worth knowing how to at least get rid of the old batteries and e-parts,....-properly!

Will bring you my old junk, and a good initiative - although it seems to me that sending all this junk to Beijing is also a bit problematic - transportation pollutes too. Hopefully Kunming will get its act together on the issue.

@Dudesons, Diandongche are unfortunately not on their list of accepted items.

@Alien Agree it's not ideal to ship to Beijing. But I think if you consider the small amount of pollution caused by trucking it to Beijing vs the benefit of proper disposal it's a net environmental benefit. As mentioned in the article, if anybody has leads on licensed facilities in Kunming I'd love to hear about it.

1. Keep the fire extinguisher in a suitable location further away from box in case of fire (lithium)

2. Include a lid on box, preferably a box with no holes

3. Keep box out of reach of children

4. Provide details of battery type in picture that people are allowed to drop off and pictures of battery type that may not (potassium hydroxide leakage)

5. Ensure that person in charge of handling items does not work in the kitchen or behind the bar (bacteria from keyboards and second hand items)

6. Inform the public on how to dispose of old batteries properly with tape

7. Check safety and condition of all items before being left in box

8. If you are suspicious of a person or item, do not accept drop off

Apparently not accepting keyboards at present, right?

Get realistic. There is nothing special in a keyboard like ""Heavy metals such as lead, mercury, cadmium and beryllium, as well as hazardous chemicals". If they arive in Beijing it will be dumped there.
The things that should be discarded with special care are the actual electronics.

Thanks lemon - I have no idea what the stuff in a keyboard is. Would anybody want the parts?

If you buy electronic equipment there should be a small piece of paper with a declaration of which nasty substances are included in the item.
It usually is in the form of a small spreadsheet. With on top the substances usually in this order:
 Pb (Plumbum) which is Lead. (Used in all soldered contacts thus in nearly all electronics)
 Hg (Hydragyrum) which is Mercury.
 Cd which is Cadmium. (Was used a lot in the old nickel-cadmium batteries)

 Cr-VI which is Chroom-6.
 PBB which is Polybrominated biphenyl. This is a flame retardant in plastics which are getting hot.
 PBDE which is Polybrominated diphenyl ether. This is a flame retardant in plastics which are getting hot.
These substances are simply poisonous and can cause cancer and hormone imbalance.

In backstreet recycling they are not into recycling these substances or safe disposal but interested in the other elements that have a value which are mainly copper and gold. All the above substances are still getting in the environment. Proper recycling takes care of the nasty substances that don't have a value but cost a lot to dispose of properly.

In Macklemore's song "Thrift shop" a broken keyboard is used as an expression for something completely and utterly useless ;-)

Hey all, so in the spirit of recycling old stuff, we've put out a big box of old books near the electronics recycling bin at Salvador's. There are loads of good books in there and any can be yours for a small donation.

To keep in style, are this e-books ? ;-)

we could use a much smaller box if they were e-books

We just shipped off about 15 kilos of electronics yesterday. Thanks to everybody who has participated so far. Looking forward to receiving more.

Thanks to everybody who's been dropping stuff off. So far we've diverted more than 50kg of e-waste for recycling.

One note: unfortunately, alkaline (normal disposable AA, AAA, etc.) batteries are not accepted.

Eventually! Accepted battery type info which I suggested 7 MONTHS ago.

So, any information on how to dispose of Alkaline batteries properly?

"The following items are currently being accepted for recycling:

• Lithium batteries"

All I could find about alkaline batteries was a local news article which reported that the local authorities had said alkaline batteries are not actually very bad for the environment and people should just throw them in the trash :-(

I was wondering about the alkaline batteries too. They recently removed all the trash cans with battery receptacles in my neighborhood. Based on the statement Dan quoted, sounds like they simply gave up. They were probably just dumping them in the landfill anyway.

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