We've all seen them; Those old ink cartridge and cell phone collection boxes. But where does this stuff go when you donate? Look no further than Environmental Reclamation Services in Erie.
"We reclaim things for recycling. Our main products are printer cartridges. What we do is supply them to companies who will remanufacture them and then they're resold in the office super stores and places like that," said company co-president Sean Michaels.
ERS is located at 380 East Bayfront Parkway. It's been around since 1990.
The company receives and processes huge shipments of used up inkjet and laser printer cartridges. They also recycle consumer electronics like cell phones, iPads, iPods and GPS units.
"Really we're handling millions of these things per month. You wouldn't probably realize that as you're driving by on the Bayfront Parkway here but there's a lot of pieces moving in and out of this building," said Michaels.
They stay busy. Just last month alone they processed 2.6 million cartridges.
Besides just those collection boxes, thousands of cartridges are coming in daily from schools and non-profits around the country. It's a fund raising program within ERS called Funding Factory.
"We empower the schools or organizations to collect ink cartridges, cell phones and small electronics. They pack them up, ship them to us and then we calculate the value and put it into an online account for them," said program manager Erika Dauber.
The money they're paid can then be used to buy supplies, fund programs, or really anything else they need to operate.
And through 15 years of the program, ERS has been able to help not only schools and non-profits, but the environment as well.
"Over time we've kept about 21 million pounds of waste out of land fills and we've raised, we just calculated the latest numbers, we've raised about $31 million for schools and non-profits," said Dauber.
"These things generally would end up in landfills otherwise so we're reclaiming them and turning them into refurbished products basically. So yeah, that's something that makes us feel good," said Michaels.
Something else that makes Michaels feel good is the impact ERS has in Erie. Right now they employ around 180 people, and they're looking to hire more. He says as long as people keep donating their old cartridges and electronics, business will continue to grow.