eWaste OKC mass recycling event
City workers collect computer materials during the annual Oklahoma City mass recycling event at the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds in April 2021. (Provided)

Oklahoma City residents will be able to recycle and dispose of household hazardous waste materials — including tires, ammunition, prescription medications and some electronic or “eWaste” items — at an annual mass collection event hosted by the city at the State Fairgrounds.

Set for 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, April 6, the special collection is open only to Oklahoma City residents, who will need to show a copy of their current city water bill for proof of eligibility. Attendees are asked to enter the State Fairgrounds at Gate 5, south of Northwest 10th Street on May Avenue.

Run by the city’s Household Hazardous Waste Collection Center, the mass recycling event offers a rare opportunity to recycle eWaste items such as computers, printers, emergency battery backups, hard drives, fax machines, scanners, mice, keyboards, chords and cellular phones.

Around the world, eWaste continues to pose significant environmental risks, with a recent United Nations report finding that rates of eWaste production are growing five times faster than recycling efforts.

In Oklahoma, few options exist for responsible disposal of such items, some of which can contain extremely hazardous compounds. And while the April 6 event at the State Fairgrounds offers an opportunity to dispose of some items, a common type of eWaste — old televisions — will not be accepted.

Similarly, business-related waste, syringes, liquids, inhalers, tire rims and wheels will not be accepted either, according to the city’s press release.

In 2023, nearly 125 tons of tires were dropped off

While household chemical compounds are not being accepted at the April 6 mass recycling event, OKC’s Household Hazardous Waste Collection Center, 1621 S. Portland Ave. does take a wide range of hazardous materials from residents year-round.


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The center is open Tuesday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Saturday from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. OKC residents who dispose of items there can also visit the connected “swap shop” to receive free cleaning, lawn and home care supplies.

Derek Johnson, the environmental protection superintendent for Oklahoma City’s Storm Water Quality Management Division of the Public Works Department, oversees the HHWCC. He said the April 6 event at the State Fairgrounds will feature a specific setup for each type of hazardous waste being accepted.

“We do a limited survey just to verify residency,” Johnson said. “We try to keep the flow going to where it only takes about 15 minutes to get through. But of course, that is dictated by how many people we have in any given line at a time.”

Last year, he said the city’s annual collection event took in 248,795 pounds of tires. Recycled computers and accessories amounted to 14,628 pounds.

“Historically, people didn’t have any place to put tires,” Johnson said. “And obviously, they piled up on our county roads or even city area with illegal dumping. So this is a great opportunity for people to have a great resource to get rid of those tires.”

Improperly disposed of and un-shredded tires can be an attraction to mosquitoes, he said.

“Of course, the worry is West Nile virus,” Johnson said.

‘Try your beset to recycle as much as possible’

A stack of old printers and computers is wrapped for disposal at the City of Oklahoma City’s annual mass recycling event in 2021. (Provided)

While valuable metals can exist in old computers and phones, other reasons exist to collect hazardous waste from the public. Improper disposal of tires, medications and electronic waste can have serious environmental ramifications. Disposing of those items via sewer systems or city trash service can still carry consequences.

“It contributes to landfill toxicity, no different than if it was dumped in a promiscuous dump,” Johnson said. “Over time, when used in its solid state, it’s fine, but if you put it into a dump situation, who knows what’s going to leach out of that. And there are always groundwater concerns in general toxicity. So, the best practice is to try your best to recycle as much as possible for a number of reasons.”

Scott Metzger, a member of the Sierra Club’s Green Country Group, said eWaste can be particularly harmful when it is sent to landfills or otherwise disposed of improperly.

“All those electronics contain a lot of metals, a lot of lead,” Metzger said. “Everything has a circuit board. Part of that circuit board is the lead used to mount the components to the board. So you don’t want to put that in the ground, because at some point they can leak out. And then it’s now becoming land pollution, which eventually will become water pollution.”

One Oklahoma City resident, Nicki Rangel, said she has been holding onto computers and cell phones for years but was unsure how to get rid of them responsibly.

“I had shoved them up in a cabinet,” Rangel said. “I think I have like three laptops and two cell phones. And I keep carrying them around. I mean, I’ve literally had them since like seven years ago. So I just want to get rid of them.”

Now, Rangel plans on attending the event. However, she said she was wary of people getting her information from her devices.

“I don’t want people to get my information, so I don’t know the protocols for that,” Rangel said. “And then I don’t even know where you take them. I didn’t know if you recycle them. I didn’t want to just throw it in the dumpster.”

Johnson said all electronics will be shredded down to parts, easing concerns for safety and privacy. He said residents have the option of destroying their electronics before turning them in.

“When they’re dropping off the thing with data on it, I can assure that they’re shredded,” Johnson said. “But a lot of people take the option of pulling the hard drive and hitting it with a hammer, just ruining it, and then they bring us the parts. That’s fine with us, too.”

Johnson said he plans on doing the same before he brings his electronics to dispose at the event.

“I’m actually dropping off the computer myself, and I pulled the hard drive and I’m planning on hitting it with a sledgehammer,” he said.

Oklahoma City has a contract with CleanEarth Inc., which will receive computer parts after they are broken down into a shippable form, and the recycling company will come and take custody of the devices.