For Earth Day, a new e-waste recycling center in Berkeley

The GreenCitizen e-waste center opens on Friday April 22 at 1971 Shattuck Avenue (at University)

A new business will open tomorrow in downtown Berkeley, and it’s a fitting one for Earth Day: GreenCitizen is the latest outpost of a small chain of e-waste centers which aim to tackle the shameful statistic that 80% of electronic waste in the U.S. is dumped in the landfill or off-loaded to developing countries.

GreenCitizen, at 1971 Shattuck Avenue, will offer electronics recycling — be it computers, printers, televisions, cell phones, or batteries. It will also take styrofoam.

“We’re very excited to be opening in Berkeley,” said James Kao, GreenCitizen’s founder and CEO. The company launched on Earth Day 2005 in Palo Alto and also has two outlets in San Francisco. “We have developed a holistic approach to e-waste based on repair, recycling and re-use. Our aim is to reduce everyone’s carbon footprint.”

GreenCitizen’s Berkeley center

The process is straightforward, said Kao. There is ample parking outside the new store for customers to drop-off their electronics, and carts will be available for moving items. A global tracking system devised by GreenCitizen allows the company to monitor where each item is shipped. All the equipment is sent to two facilities in California and either recycled or re-used.

The Bay Area scores highly compared to other places when it comes to recycling electronics. According to a survey published by Retrevo, 52% of Bay Area residents say they recycle their electronic gadgets. The top four greenest metro areas of the country are the Bay Area, Washington D.C., Phoenix and Los Angeles. Overall, just 28% of respondents nationwide said they recycled their old gear.

Along with responsible electronics recycling, GreenCitizen offers online and in-store repair services designed to keep electronic equipment running for as long as possible, and business pickup and data security services such as hard-disk destruction and cell phone erasure, both of which deter identity theft.

Kao said the service, which is can be free or come with a small charge depending on the item, is not seen by city recycling services as competition. “Cities are over-stretched and often refer business to us. They don’t always have the expertise either, such as with dealing with styrofoam.”

GreenCitizen will hold a grand opening party on Friday April 22 at 1pm. It will then be open Monday through Saturday from 10am-6pm. To mark the occasion of its Berkeley opening, it is offering free e-waste recycling through May 31.

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  • You can also recycle your phones online at They pay cash for newer phones and offer free recycling of older model cell phones.

  • Gabereal88

    This is a great idea! Good to see Berkeley leading the way once again, but kind of discouraging to see that only 28% nationwide recycled their electronics. Guess that will change with more businesses like these….

  • TN

    There’s a couple of more places in West Berkeley where unwanted electronics can be recycled.

    The Alameda County Computer Recycling Center at 620 Page Street accepts TVs and monitors for free. Other items might require a fee.

    Berkeley Self Storage (2235 San Pablo Avenue) is a drop off location for “Green Spot” recycling service. Green Spot appears to work solely with storage facilities in California to collect electronics for recycling. There is no fee for anything. There is a kick back to registered charities who have registered with the company for drop offs of TVs and monitors.

    I hate seeing TVs and computer monitors being placed on the street. I know that there are a few people driving around and scavenging these items for profit. But all to often, I see CRTs being kicked in by vandals, leaving debris on the street. We don’t need to make our streets any more harzardous than they already are.

  • Szunderwood

    Automatic Reponse Systems on Frontage in West Berkeley which mainly provides papershredding, also provides a similar service:

    Secure Computer Recycling

    Automatic Response Systems is a certified collector of E-WASTE (CEW ID #109013). The California Electronic Waste act of 2003 requires that Californians dispose of electronic items properly. This means that we must go to a state approved collector or recycler in order to dispose of items listed below.

    All Monitors and laptops are considered CRT’s, and their disposal is strictly monitored, with each unit being logged for its origin and type upon disposal. We accept these items as a donation, as well as other computer peripherals, such as keyboards, printers, and external memory drives.

  • Anonymous

    Sweet, i actually have a little bag of old computer parts and batteries that I want to get rid of

  • Eric

    This is great – I have some pieces to drop off that can probably be reused, else recycled.

    I just wish it were possible to recycle paint cans without driving them all the way to the hazardous waste facility. Couldn’t there be a drop off point once or twice a year somewhere close by?

  • Terry

    I’m with you on this. The inconvenience of this one location near Oakland airport surely contributes to many cans ending up in the garbage. Why can’t this waste be added to the once/yr bulky items pickup? People are already in cleanup mode and we don’t want thus stuff ending up in the Bay or the water table…

  • walter

    Recycling is too inconvenient and time consuming for most people to bother. Instead of paying people for the valuable metals content, many recyclers try to collect a fee from the person trying to avoid the landfill.
    Recycling needs to be 1) free and 2) convenient —

  • Johncooper2308

    I used a site called to recycle my old mobile for cash