More than 600,000 pounds of mostly electronic waste has been diverted from landfills over the past 12 years by the students who run Tiger Recycling at Cañon City High School. To be precise: 623,702 pounds of laptops, dismantled desktops, cellphones, printers, televisions, and the assorted detritus of outdated, broken, waterlogged or unwanted gear has been prepped by students and delivered to 3R Technology Solutions, according to 3R CEO Pete Mikulin, who says they track every pound that comes through the doors.

Amid the haul were assorted small appliances — mixers, sewing machines, toasters — and batteries and cords that students disassemble or sort. Tiger Recycling and 3R, its primary vendor, take just about anything that plugs in or runs on batteries except for large appliances such as washers and dryers.

While all this stuff is getting reused or repurposed, the students learn how to take things apart, safely handle potentially hazardous waste, identify and sort materials (such as clean or dirty aluminum, steel and plastic), prepare items for shipping, fill out bills of lading, and take in and weigh items from customers. This student-run business is unique in a couple of other ways: Tiger Recycling is certified for recycling by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and it earns money.

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Author: Sue McMillin, The Colorado Sun
Image: Mike Sweeney, Special to the Colorado Sun