Eye On KELOLAND: Recycling non-recylables


SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) — By now, you’ve opened all the gifts, and tossed the wrapping paper and empty boxes along with any other clutter around the Christmas tree. But, some of your holiday refuse cannot be recycled or thrown into the trash.

You need to drop off old electronics, including Christmas lights, at the Household Hazardous Waste facility in Sioux Falls. But what happens to those discarded TV’s and computers once the city collects them?

The Christmas recycling rush is ramping up at the company known as SEAM.

“SEAM is a certified facility. Last year, we processed 2-point-four million pounds,” SEAM Director of Business Development, Levi Hentges said.

SEAM takes in the tough cases that single-stream recyclers aren’t equipped to handle.

“Printers, computers, speakers, keyboards, mice, desk top towers, gaming systems, TV’s,” Hentges said

SEAM is a stepping-off point for old electronics from both homes and businesses on their way to be re-used, or recycled.

“It’s all a 100-percent no-landfill policy,” Hentges said

The recycling here is very labor intensive. Industry-certified technicians have to pull apart the components, by hand.

“Everything is made differently, so it really takes a human hand to get all that stuff apart,” warehouse technician Nolan Hansen said.

It’s an exacting and painstaking process since electronics keep getting smaller and smaller.

“We get hard-drives that come in like those micro-SD chips, they’re like the size of your thumbnail so ir’s really hard to find some of those things. The biggest part of our job is to make sure we get all those media-bearing devices to keep the safety of the customers,” warehouse technician, Nolan Hansen said.

Protecting personal data is a top priority for the technicians at SEAM. They’re required to wipe clean all hard drives or destroy them.

This shredding machine can grind-up 15-hundred hard drives in an hour.

“The hard drives themselves actually end up kind of looking like confetti, and the CD’s also,” Hentges said

But no one’s going to be celebrating New Year’s with this kind of confetti. The next step in the recycling assembly line stretches beyond the SEAM warehouse.

“We send it to a processor that can specialize in that specific type of material. Whether we’re sending it for smelting or for a plastics recycling who’s going to recycle all that plastics,” SEAM Marketing & Communications Director Marissa Begley said.

Every once and a while, some rather strange electronics will come to the company, including this electric guitar and amplifier. But SEAM doesn’t change its tune: this, too, will get recycled.

“I, myself, being a musician, my mind is blown when you see a keyboard or an electric guitar come through here. But, somebody doesn’t need it anymore, it ends up here, one way, shape, or form,” Hentges said

Much of what ends up here are electronics made obsolete by brand-new Christmas purchases. Many of the devices get pulled-apart, wiped-clean of data, and take a tumble through a shredder. A continual process of recycling that turns discarded old tech into new tech.

SEAM also does on-site hard drive shredding at area businesses.

To look at which holiday-related items can be recycled, and what can’t, click here.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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