Whatcom Magazine

Whatcom recycling tips: Electronics, smoke detectors and porcelain


Maybe you have old TVs, an ancient computer, or a stereo tuner and amp from your college days. Whatever it may be, electronic devices can be recycled to create jobs, save energy and reduce pollution, and most of it won’t cost you a dime. For details, go to the E-Cycle Washington website, or call 800-RECYCLE from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays. Click on “Where can I recycle” in the upper left corner and you’ll find a guide to recycling in Washington. Type in your zip code or county, what you want to recycle, and the site provides contact information for each location.

TVs, laptops, computers and monitors are recycled free at several drop-off points (thanks to the state’s “manufacturers pay” program), and most Whatcom e-waste recyclers accept most other electronics – such as stereos, printers and cell phones – at no charge. Electronics in good shape go to nonprofits, schools or overseas charities. The rest goes to processors, who remove precious metals and recycle other components.

Sanitary Service Co. will pick up electronics at your home or workplace for a small charge, and accepts them for drop-off for a fee at 1001 Roeder Ave.

Smoke detectors

It’s recommended that smoke detectors be replaced after 10 years. There are two typical types of smoke alarms — ionization and photoelectric, though some combine both in one unit. Each type requires different handling.

Ionization detectors contain a small amount of radioactive material, with a warning label on the detector. For a lithium battery, take it to an electronics store, or to Disposal of Toxics, 3505 Airport Drive; 360-380-4640. An alkaline or standard 9-volt battery can go in the garbage. The ionization detector, itself, should be mailed for recycling to the manufacturer, whose contact information is on the alarm housing. Combination alarms should be mailed back, too.

Photoelectric and carbon monoxide detectors don’t have radioactive material. The lithium or rechargeable 9-volt battery should go to Disposal of Toxics or an electronics stores. Alkalines and standard 9-volts can go in the garbage. Recycle the plastic cover and base in your curbside bin. The rest of the alarm body can go in the trash.


Porcelain can be placed in any Sanitary Service Co. construction recycling container; be sure to remove any plastic or metal parts from the porcelain. Toilets, sinks and ceramic tile are sorted at Recycling & Disposal Services, sent to Cowden Gravel & Ready Mix for crushing, and then incorporated into concrete for new sidewalks and driveways.

For a small fee you can also drop off porcelain for recycling at SSC’s transfer station from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. Crockpots and broken ceramic mugs and dishes also can be taken to 1001 Roeder Ave. for a small fee, if there’s no glass in the porcelain.