CRANBERRY TWP — Massive bins and 55-gallon black steel barrels stretched across the floor of Cranberry Township's Department of Public Works, transformed for the day into an e-waste collection station.
Three times a year, township residents are able to dig out their old computers, dead batteries and obsolete electronics for an environmentally-friendly disposal.
About 135 people signed up Saturday, according to Evelyn Bacher, an administrative assistant for ECS & R, which is hired by the township to remove the items.
Residents brought their electronic detritus, from old Dell computer towers to cleaning products and bulky televisions. Once the items are collected, the company processes them off site where the discarded items are broken down to their essential parts to be recycled.
“We salvage and tear everything down,” Bacher said. “Most of it won't go into landfills.”
Bacher directed the line of cars into the public works depot. She would then weigh the items and charge a fee based on what items were brought and their final weight.
“We'll take what they can pay,” Bacher said as she used a calculator to determine the cost of a drop-off. “We're not mean people, we work with what they could afford.”
Bacher said the work space that Cranberry Township provided the company was nice because it provided shade and an easy drop-off for people.
“They treat us good here,” she said. “Last weekend we were out in Monroeville under the sun. It got so hot that my calculator broke. Of course, we recycled it.”
Bacher was assisted by a handful of other people, some volunteers and other workers with the company. One of the volunteers was her fiancé, Albert Thigpen.
With the hot, sunny weather, Thigpen could have done any number of things on his day off, but he decided to help his bride-to-be.
“Happy wife, happy life,” Thigpen said.
He began his day at 7 a.m. and within a few hours he was in the rhythm, grabbing boxes of discarded items to be weighed and then stored.
“It has its moment,” Thigpen said. “It's crazy; you get these classic, antique-looking things and then really new stuff.”
Thigpen said he saw a 70-inch television brought in that was still working.
“It really surprised me sometimes with the things we throw out,” Thigpen said.
Bacher said that along with the registered participants, ECS & R was also accepting drop-offs from people who didn't sign up.
“It adds a little more to the workload, but it's OK,” she said.
By noon, the stream of cars was gone, and there was a lull in the heavy lifting.
“So this is what a break looks like, huh?” Thigpen said. “Usually it's cars lined up back-to-back the whole time.”
Most items brought to be thrown away get stored in big bins. However, items that can possibly be more volatile, such as batteries, are turned over to Steve Shaw with ECS & R. Shaw took a 40-hour class that provides information on identifying the various items and how best to handle them. For items such as antifreeze, oil and flammable liquids, he uses steel drum barrels.
“Otherwise, you can get an explosion,” Shaw said.