The GreenCitizen e-waste center opens on Friday April 22 at 1971 Shattuck Avenue (at University)

A new business will open tomorrow in downtown Berkeley, and it’s a fitting one for Earth Day: GreenCitizen is the latest outpost of a small chain of e-waste centers which aim to tackle the shameful statistic that 80% of electronic waste in the U.S. is dumped in the landfill or off-loaded to developing countries.

GreenCitizen, at 1971 Shattuck Avenue, will offer electronics recycling — be it computers, printers, televisions, cell phones, or batteries. It will also take styrofoam.

“We’re very excited to be opening in Berkeley,” said James Kao, GreenCitizen’s founder and CEO. The company launched on Earth Day 2005 in Palo Alto and also has two outlets in San Francisco. “We have developed a holistic approach to e-waste based on repair, recycling and re-use. Our aim is to reduce everyone’s carbon footprint.”

GreenCitizen’s Berkeley center
GreenCitizen’s Berkeley center

The process is straightforward, said Kao. There is ample parking outside the new store for customers to drop-off their electronics, and carts will be available for moving items. A global tracking system devised by GreenCitizen allows the company to monitor where each item is shipped. All the equipment is sent to two facilities in California and either recycled or re-used.

The Bay Area scores highly compared to other places when it comes to recycling electronics. According to a survey published by Retrevo, 52% of Bay Area residents say they recycle their electronic gadgets. The top four greenest metro areas of the country are the Bay Area, Washington D.C., Phoenix and Los Angeles. Overall, just 28% of respondents nationwide said they recycled their old gear.

Along with responsible electronics recycling, GreenCitizen offers online and in-store repair services designed to keep electronic equipment running for as long as possible, and business pickup and data security services such as hard-disk destruction and cell phone erasure, both of which deter identity theft.

Kao said the service, which is can be free or come with a small charge depending on the item, is not seen by city recycling services as competition. “Cities are over-stretched and often refer business to us. They don’t always have the expertise either, such as with dealing with styrofoam.”

GreenCitizen will hold a grand opening party on Friday April 22 at 1pm. It will then be open Monday through Saturday from 10am-6pm. To mark the occasion of its Berkeley opening, it is offering free e-waste recycling through May 31.

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Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...