Denver residents may not want to wait until winter officially ends on March 20 to begin spring cleaning. Right now Retrievr, a recycling company entering the market, will pick up old electronics at your doorstep 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 said several tech companies — including Google, Apple, Amazon, Dell Technologies and Microsoft — approached Retrievr about collaborating, leading the group to offer a free month of refresher training in Denver.
In 2019, Colorado’s statewide recycling rate was only 15.9% compared to the national rate of 35%; the Front Range generated 87% 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 it would be a good testing ground, and I knew a collection partner in the field who could help us out.”
This partner is Blue Star Recyclers, a Denver company that employs people with disabilities.
Retrievr focuses on residential recycling rather than commercial recycling, as businesses have a much better recycling rate for electronics than individuals. In addition to the benefits of reusing precious metals in electronics and preventing electronics from cluttering landfills, proper recycling can also improve safety.
“People know there’s data on your phones and other computers, but there’s actually data on more devices than is commonly thought,” Stokes says. Recycling companies are certified to properly erase this data, while landfills have no such obligation. Retievr is an e-Stewards company, which means that every item is secure and tracked until its parts are split 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 pick up the items from your doorstep. The company cannot, however, accept batteries, light bulbs, smoke detectors and a few other items, so be sure to check the list of prohibited items. “The reason we can’t accept them is purely because of the downstream recycling opportunities available to us in the region,” Stokes explains. “There are just different materials in there that need to be processed in different ways.”
After the trial period, people will have to pay a flat fee of $20 for Retrievr’s services, with an additional $30 for TVs and computer monitors, as many of these products contain lead in glass, which requires additional monitoring for safety.
“How long will it be free?” We do not know. It will all depend on the turnout,” Stokes said, hinting the deal could last longer than a month. And even after the grant ends, Retrievr hopes to offer other incentives to entice Denver residents to recycle their electronics.
Still, Retrievr is offering its best deal in March: free. Start cleaning.