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What happens to your devices when you throw them away?

A Cambridge company is taking your old electronics and giving them a second life

A Cambridge company is taking your old phones and laptops and giving them a second chance in an effort to keep devices in the home rather than in the landfill 

In a large warehouse off of Pinebush Road sits a collection site for hundreds of thousands of discarded electronic devices. Shipments of old laptops, phones, tablets and nearly everything with a screen and batteries are brought in by the truckload to be dismantled and checked for parts. 

GreenTec at 95 Struck Ct. specializes in e-waste and the disposal of data that is stored on these devices. They offer the community a safe place to discard their phones and laptops and materials from these devices are harvested and repurposed in various ways. 

"We started back in 1995, when printers were the size of bookshelves and cellphones were like bricks," said Tony Perrotta, CEO if GreenTec. "We have always been about privacy and sustainability."

When a device shows up at GreenTec's processing warehouse, it is sorted by the type of device and its condition. Everything is checked to see what components are salvageable and in some cases the entire device will be refreshed and resold. 

When it comes to official data shredding, GreenTec offers a service that many school boards and private companies use to "shred" their data to keep information from getting into someone else's hands. 

"We take data protection and privacy very seriously here," said Perrotta. "We completely wipe everything and an official certificate is given to the customer to confirm their data has been disposed of properly." 

If an area is dealing with sensitive data, they are working in a caged area that requires a special key to enter. 

"We do not mess around with our customers' data," Perrotta said. "We work with high profile companies that cannot let their data fall into the wrong hands." 

When a device can't be saved, they check for things like batteries, hard drives and processors that can be placed into another device or sold individually to computer repair shops.

GreenTec does not sell to the public, but sells complete devices as well as parts at a wholesale level. 

Unlike scrapyards and city-run dumps, GreenTec doesn't charge for the disposal of a device, but instead will take it for free at drop off locations around the city.

Material like plastics and metals that can't be reused and must be destroyed will undergo a strict sorting process to ensure they are properly disposed. Batteries are destoryed in a vacuum sealed container that is highly monitored, while plastics and metals are shredded and separated into large bags.

"It is kind of our mission to make sure that these devices are being properly disposed of, if we cant save them and that they don't just end up siting in a landfill," Perrotta said. 

GreenTec is also making it their goal to partner with charities within the community such as the Cambridge Food Bank with a program called, Phones For Food. This will see the money from donated phones be put towards helping the food bank stock food for the busy holiday season. 

"Whether it be helping the community with devices or donations, we want to make sure we are giving back as much as we can," Perrotta said. 

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Joe McGinty

About the Author: Joe McGinty

Joe McGinty is a multimedia journalist who covers local news in the Cambridge area. He is a graduate of Conestoga College and began his career as a freelance journalist at CambridgeToday before joining full time.
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