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Electronic Recyclers International opens at former Alcoa site in N.C.

RALEIGH, N.C.  -- Electronic Recyclers International announced plans Monday to open a regional operations center at Alcoa Inc.'s former smelting plant in Badin, N.C. eventually providing jobs for 200 or more employees, reports Renee Elder of the Associated Press.

The company operates six other sites nationally that together recycle 140 million pounds of electronic products each year,  officials said.

Electronic waste, or e-waste, can be anything that uses electricity or takes batteries. Some contents in these items, such as battery acids and heavy metals, may contaminate dirt and groundwater if disposed of improperly.

By the time an electronic product goes through ERI's recycling process, and valuable materials are extracted, "about the only thing you have going to the landfill is dust," said Badin Mayor James Harrison.

Alcoa officials have pledged $5 million to improve the space, matching a $5 million investment by Electronic Recyclers.

Economic factors caused Alcoa, which has operations in Blount County, to close the Badin plant in 2007, Harrison said. The company has continued operating the dams and selling off the electricity generated.

Federal permits for the dams are now in contention, as the company seeks to renew a 50-year license to continue harnessing the river's power for power generation.

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