Tampa’s Urban E-Recycling works to keep E-Waste out of landfills

Earth Day is every day at Tampa’s Urban E-Recycling, but CEO Greg Rabinowitz jokes it’s also little like Valentine’s Day. 

“I love my wife every day of the year, I just show it a little bit more on Valentine’s Day,” Rabinowitz laughed. “And with Earth Day, it just becomes more public.”

His warehouse is focused on properly recycling Electronic waste and electronic scraps. Rabinowitz said it’s the fastest growing segment in the scrap industry. 

The Tampa warehouse will recycle just about anything with a circuit board – from old laptops, tablets, phones, to solar batteries and software – free of charge. They have three locations – Tampa, Bradenton and Orlando, and they take care of recycling the electronics from many sites statewide – from the IRS to medical facilities and schools. 

They also take care of recycling items for anyone, and they make sure to do it safely. 

“As they come in, the first thing we’re doing – the most important thing is making sure any data – the hard drive, or the cell phones, is removed immediately and then shredded,” he said.

Anyone who brings in their electronic items can watch the process happen. Rabinowitz said no one needs an appointment, and anyone coming in will put it through the shredder themselves, watch it get shredded and leave knowing their data was destroyed. 

Rabinowitz said in the 10 years he’s been running this business, he’s come across a lot of unique old electronics people have recycled. He has a little “electronics museum” in his warehouse that houses old car phones, Walkman cassette players, cameras – even the original Apple computer and a decades-old defibrillator. 

He joked that his biggest competition is the landfill – but the reality is only 30-35% of E-Waste is recycled properly. Rabinowitz said that’s a huge amount that needs to be taken care of.

Rabinowitz even has a daily reminder of all the word to be done at the warehouse – their own “Mother Earth,” a salvaged mannequin he acquired after two months in business. 

“We’ve had her up there going on 10 years,” he laughed. “She sits up there and reminds us in a corny way that we are stewards of the Earth and where we live, and we have to show the respect to Mother Earth.”

Rabinowitz said their profits come through the presence of gold in the items that are recycled.

“In the electronic field, the conductivity is all based on the precious metals,” he said. “So we’re really recovering, besides the base metals – the steel, the copper and aluminum – we’re really sending out and recovering gold, silver and palladium to be melted down.”

However, as the machines get newer and newer, he said manufacturers are using lesser amounts of those precious, lucrative metals.

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