Start Spring Cleaning Early: Recycle Electronics for Free with Retrievr

Retrievr can help recycle many types of electronics.
Retrievr can help recycle many types of electronics. Retrievr
Denver residents may not want to wait until the official end of winter on March 20 to begin spring cleaning. Right now, Retrievr, a recycling company moving into the market, will pick up old electronics at your door and recycle them properly — for free.

The company, which started in Philadelphia, is now expanding to Denver for a pilot year. Retrievr CEO Kabira Stokes says that several tech companies —  including Google, Apple, Amazon, Dell Technologies and Microsoft — had approached Retrievr about collaborating, which led to the group offering a free month of recycling in Denver.

In 2019, Colorado’s statewide recycling rate was only 15.9 percent compared to the national rate of 35 percent; the Front Range produced 87 percent of the state’s municipal waste.

“Colorado is known for being green and [for] environmentalism, and yet their recycling rates are very low, shockingly low,” Stokes says. “We thought this would be a good testing ground, and I knew of an on-the-ground collection partner who would be able to help us.”

That partner is Blue Star Recyclers, a Denver company that employs people with disabilities.

Retrievr focuses on residential recycling rather than business recycling because companies have a much better electronics recycling rate than do individuals. Along with the benefits of reusing precious metals contained in electronics and preventing electronics from clogging landfills, proper recycling can also enhance security.

“People know that there's data on your phones and other computers, but there's actually data on more devices than generally people think,” Stokes says. Recycling companies are certified to properly wipe that data, while landfills have no such obligation. Retievr is an e-Stewards Enterprise, which means that every item is secured and tracked until its parts are divided and reused. Fax machines, printers and gaming systems all store personal data.

Using Retrievr is simple: Just schedule a pickup time on the website and a truck will get the items from your home. The company can’t accept batteries, lightbulbs, smoke detectors and a few other items, however, so be sure to check the list of prohibited items. “The reason that we can't accept those has to do with just the downstream recycling possibilities that are available to us in the region,” Stokes explains. “There's just different materials in there that have to be dealt with in different ways.”

After the trial period, people will have to pay a $20 flat fee for Retrievr’s services, with an additional fee of at least $30 for televisions and computer monitors, because many of those products have lead in the glass, requiring additional oversight for safety.

“How long will it be free? We don't know. It will all depend on participation,” Stokes says, hinting that the deal could last longer than one month. And even after the subsidy ends, Retrievr hopes to offer other incentives to help urge Denver residents to recycle their electronics.

Still, Retrievr is offering its best deal in March: free. Start cleaning.
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Catie Cheshire is a staff writer at Westword. After getting her undergraduate degree at Regis University, she went to Arizona State University for a master's degree. She missed everything about Denver -- from the less-intense sun to the food, the scenery and even the bus system. Now she's reunited with Denver and writing news for Westword.
Contact: Catie Cheshire