Boro turns out to recycle

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Workers from Sims Recycling Solutions (l.-r.) Lamar Rochardson, Monquell Conway and John Fernandez wrap up TVs that had been dropped off. Photo by Christina Santucci
Bayside resident Antonio Ciccone (c.) watches as workers, including Yousan Marchante (r.), remove electronics from his trunk during an electronics and harzardous materials recycling event organized by the city Sanitation Department at St. John's University. Photo by Christina Santucci
Wires are placed in a box. Photo by Christina Santucci
Hundreds of cars waited in line for hours. Photo by Christina Santucci
Carlo Navarro cuts wires off computers. Photo by Christina Santucci
Cell phones are placed in a box. Photo by Christina Santucci
Electronics are removed from one car. Photo by Christina Santucci
Sisters Lois Lee (l.) and Rose Marshall drop off their electronics. Photo by Christina Santucci
One driver places his materials on a rack on his bumper on Union Turnpike. Photo by Christina Santucci
Harold Eddins from Veolia Environmental Services sorts materials dropped off. Photo by Christina Santucci
Computer monitors are taken on a forklift. Photo by Christina Santucci
Effie Karnoupakis from Middle Village catches up on her reading as her car is stopped. Photo by Christina Santucci
Batteries are sorted. Photo by Christina Santucci
Pup Rocky looks out from Mary Burns' car as it is unloaded. Photo by Christina Santucci
Susie Spodek from Forest Hills gives a thumbs up. Photo by Christina Santucci
Lamar Richardson from Sims lifts a TV. Photo by Christina Santucci
Chieh Lu from Jackson Heights hauls an old TV. Photo by Christina Santucci
Sarah Ortiz from Briarwood helps unload her car. Photo by Christina Santucci
A giant TV was one item dropped off. Photo by Christina Santucci
Members of the NYPD's Environmental Police sort through items. Photo by Christina Santucci
Jocelyn Lindor from Jamaica brought paint. Photo by Christina Santucci
Mariel Russell (c.) helps unload her car. Photo by Christina Santucci

Cars lined up for hours Saturday, idling away as drivers waited for their chance to be environmentally responsible.

But despite all the fuel wasted, more than 3,000 people passed through St. John’s University in Queens to properly and safely dispose of various electronic and hazardous materials.

Crowds of people holding empty propane tanks, paint cans, television sets, computers, stereos, microwaves and other electronics flocked to St. John’s University to dump them off in a safe and environmentally acceptable way.

Matthew Perez, of Flushing, said he sat in his car for more than an hour before running out of gas and trying again on the other side of the campus, where a walk-in line extended down Utopia Parkway. He looked down the line with confusion, unsure where all the hype was coming from.

“This was a breeze last year,” Perez said, holding a computer monitor, cordless telephone, television remotes and other electronics. “When I saw this line wrapping around, I thought there was a game here or something.”

But it wasn’t a game holding up traffic along Union Turnpike. According to David Hirschler, deputy director of waste prevention for the city Sanitation Department, the annual safe disposal events have not included the tandem of electronics and household hazardous waste in years.

“Now that we’re collecting all of these things, the response has been great. We’ve collected a massive amount of material,” Hirschler said. “The people have been pretty patient. I think they’re just relieved to get rid of this stuff and to have this option.”

To attract more attention, he said Sanitation mailed letters to all city residents to promote the event. More than 80 workers pillaged through old electronics to recycle them while leaving as little impact on the environment as possible.

Depending on the product, the materials collected are recycled, blended for fuel or sent to licensed hazardous waste treatment plants for safe disposal, the department said.

Sanitation held five SAFE Disposal events this spring, with one in each borough, to deliver a one-stop means for residents to get rid of potentially harmful household products. The Queens stop at St. John’s University drew more than 3,000 people, Hirschler said. It was the first Sanitation Department-sponsored safe recycling event in Queens since 2008.

Lucy Nersesian, of Bayside, pushed a large green wheelbarrow full of paint cans, oil cans, radios and other items out of her garage toward the front of the walk-in recycling line. She said she was glad to be getting rid of it all despite the wait.

“This stuff’s got to go either way,” Nersesian said. “I’d rather do it the right way.”

Hirschler said Sanitation planned on holding the same event annually for each borough in the coming years so residents have more options when looking to get rid of electronics or hazardous waste.

Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4573

Posted 8:09 pm, May 2, 2012
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