Asked why he decided to open an electronics recycling business, Derek McCormack replied, “I used to have a cellphone repair business in St. Louis Park, and it seemed that everyone who came in kept asking me how to recycle their old phones and electronics.”
And so, in October of 2020, deep into the pandemic, McCormack and co-owner Richie Paro opened their door at 1034 3rd Ave NE, in the triangle formed by Spring Street and Central Avenue, and started accepting, “almost anything with a cord,” said McCormack.
Most electronic items that can be recycled are accepted fee-free when dropped off. You can also arrange for pickup if needed. There is a charge for televisions, computer monitors, printers, and large appliances, like washers and dryers, because there’s no recoverable value, said McCormack.
What happens to your items once they’re dropped off? Electronic items are dismantled and any personal data is destroyed. Data destruction certificates are available when requested.
“Electronics can’t be discarded in landfills,” said McCormack. “they may contain things like tin, lead, silver, and mercury, that can leach into the soil. “We fill out a report to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to let them know where and how we dispose of them.”
“Some materials are shredded, some are smelted,” said McCormack. “and we’re able to recover five to eight dollars from cadmium, palladium, and silver from every desktop computer that we dismantle.”
Then there’s equipment that’s not quite at the end of its life. “Many computers that we receive can still be used,” said McCormack, “so for those, we destroy the customer’s data and prepare them for reuse and resale on craigslist. We do not resell or reuse anything containing customer data.
“It’s funny. Older computers that we accept often still have life left in them, but newer computers we receive usually have something seriously wrong with them.”
What’s in the shop? Everything. Stacks and stacks of laptop computers, tablets, old PC towers, rows of monitors, cords and cables, gaming systems, VHS players, batteries, turn tables, speakers, you name it.
Because materials are separated and sorted for recovery and reuse, they help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save energy. And recovering and reusing materials means that fewer raw elements are extracted from the earth. “We sell materials back into the supply chain; by avoiding landfill disposal, we’re helping build new products and maintain a sustainable, energy-efficient process.”
And why choose Northeast Minneapolis to locate his new business? “Because I live right around the corner and I kept watching this location, thinking what a great place to run a business,” said McCormack. “When it became available, I jumped.”
Below: Recovering and reusing material from out-of-commission electronics,means fewer raw elements are extracted from the earth. Aaron Andrusko, technician “with skills,” and co-owners Richie Paro and Derek McCormack welcome Northeasters to Electronics Recycling. (Photos by Barb Kondrick)