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At first glance, we might think other living things sure waste a lot. Trees each year make countless flowers and leaves only to drop them all to the ground a few weeks or months later, and other plants and critters throw around seeds, shells and spores left and right.

But of course nothing really is wasted. Nature’s leftovers become food and support for the ecosystem around them. Life’s building blocks cycle through plant, animal, fungi and microbe. Not even rock is immune to recycling.

NWA Recycles’ guiding vision is to make the economy of Northwest Arkansas more like this – in other words, more circular. In a circular economy, the materials that flow into products and services you use every day are then re-collected, reused and remade.

Our local economy, on the whole, is linear. We buy things, use things, throw things away in the trash, and that stuff’s useful life ends. But that’s not always the case. Several smaller circular economies have already taken root.

In our NWA’s Circular Economies series, we’ll highlight examples of local businesses and initiatives that not only collect recyclable materials but also put them to use here in Northwest Arkansas.

eSCO Processing & Recycling

Electronics collected by Arkansas solid waste districts, schools, corporations and others come to this electronics processing company’s headquarters in Rogers. Around 1 million pounds of laptops, cellphones, stereos, TVs, batteries and other devices each month come through the building, one of four eSCO facilities in the country.

By Z Yu on Unsplash

The company handles these materials in several circular ways. It refurbishes and resells many devices, often locally, with new hard drives and operating systems. Styrofoam from companies’ packaging is compressed and sold for recycling. And scrap steel, circuit boards and other materials go to smelters to be melted down and remade into new products for domestic and global markets.

For materials that can’t be reused in these ways, eSCO takes the first bite of a longer recycling process by sorting, densifying and otherwise preparing components that are then handed off to more specialized domestic recyclers.

The company follows e-Stewards, R2 and other third-party certification standards for responsible e-waste recycling: Weight is carefully tracked from beginning to end to ensure items aren’t lost or trashed, and all data-bearing devices are sanitized, meaning their files are completely deleted.

Public walk-ins are welcome within public health guidelines at 2111 S. 8th St., Rogers, and many devices are free to drop off. For hours and accepted materials, check out eSCO’s website. Joe Tucker at jtucker@escorecycling.com can also answer questions or set up a tour.

Why recycle electronics?

Within their circuit boards and wiring, electronics contain all sorts of substances we can reuse, saving energy and other natural resources. Copper, steel, glass, precious metals and more can be recycled indefinitely and would otherwise have to be mined all over again. Throwing them in the trash also creates a pollution risk for local land and water. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency lists more of the benefits of recycling them here.

How else can I recycle electronics?

Benton County Solid Waste District has electronics drop-offs in Centerton, Rogers and Siloam Springs. Get hours and other details.

Boston Mountain Solid Waste District electronics drop-offs are in Springdale, Prairie Grove and Huntsville. Go here and click the “Filter by Category” menu to select Electronics for locations and hours.

Finally, online resources such as Earth911 can point you to retailers that accept various electronics by ZIP code.