Meet Metech

A worker at Metech breaks down electronics into recyclable parts for further processingBy Patrick Naylis

Photography by Ross Evertson

Semi-trucks dominate the traffic in this part of Denver’s industrialized north side.  Inside a dusty100,000 square foot warehouse, a line of around 20 workers disassembles electronic goods.  They demolish electronic products ranging from 50’s era bakelite TV consoles to modern day hi-res flat screen monitors.  Behind them, hi-los scoot across the concrete floor carrying bins of sorted electronic components to waiting semi-trailers. 

This is Metech Recycling, an e-waste recycler that differs from other recyclers in the area.  Conscientious consumers brought their electronic refuse to Metech because they know it will be recycled responsibly.  They are certain it won’t be discarded in a municipal landfill or dumped on a poor nation in, say, West Africa, causing polluted air, aquifers, and soil.

Metech provides this guarantee as the basis of their business, and with the growth in disposable commodities causing environmental concern, it’s an important guarantee.

Americans buy a lot of new technology.  According to the Consumer Electronics Association, we spent $180 billion on electronic gadgets last year.  They seem to make our lives easier, save time, and offer more ways to communicate.  Consequently, Americans also trash a lot of technology: according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), we produced 3.1 million tons of e-waste in 2008.

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Dry Docked: The New Life of Venice and Grand Isle, Louisiana

A local man involved in cleanup.Photography and Text by Zoriah Miller

As a photojournalist, I learn something new from each and every project I do. Sometimes I come away from a story with profound new facts, information that I never could have discovered had I not just gone and experienced it myself. Sometimes what I learn is life changing, knowledge that opens my eyes and allows me to see the world and humanity in a completely new light.

Other times I feel like I learn very little, and in some cases I feel like I know less about a situation than I thought I did going into it. This was my experience shooting the aftermath of one of the worst oil spills in history, the BP Gulf Oil Spill.

Going into the project, I pictured angry fishermen protesting on the streets, fighting for a livelihood that had been passed down from generation to generation. I pictured oil-drenched beaches with dead animals strewn about and thick sludge as far as the eye could see. I pictured eye-opening conversations with scientists and wildlife officials. But what I actually found when I arrived was, for the most part, quite different.

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Bio-Fuel Sells

by Chris Bolte

When he heard that an entire family of gorillas had been murdered over charcoal in the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Robert Williams, of Nederland, Colo., stepped up efforts to expand production of a little-known alternative fuel.

The gorillas were slaughtered in 2007 by a group of African rebels who support themselves on charcoal production. But this charcoal isn’t pulled from the ground. Instead, it’s made from trees. According to Paulin Ngobobo, a Virunga park ranger who describes the process on the webpage, first, a tree is cut down, the trunk not always being used, then the branches are stripped and stacked into a dome shape that is covered in mud.  This mud separates the wood from the atmosphere, which causes the wood to burn stronger, making the charcoal. “It’s important to note that it takes 6 kilograms of fuel wood to make a single kilogram of charcoal,” Williams said, “It’s a terribly inefficient process.”


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Hot Town, Colorado

The flashpoint for a new boom cycle in uranium mining started in January, as President Obama called out for “a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in this country.” Following his speech, the White House outlined a program in the 2011 budget with $55 billion in loan guarantees to build new plants across the country. In Colorado, the result has been very partisan battle lines being drawn, and citizens from across the state pouring into the Western Slope region in a fight over the past, present and future of Colorado.

With the desperation for jobs on the Western Slope reaching a fevered pitch, pro-mining voices are now vying against the health concerns of residents and activists. However, unlike past fights over the issue, environmentalism and the tourism industry are now standing toe to toe against the uranium and vanadium economy.


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Feature: Where is 'Away'?

Published November 2009 Vol. 13 Issue 10

by William Hillyard

photos by Guillermo Arias

Tanker truck delivers water in Tijuana neighborhood

At low tide, you could walk to Mexico, around the crusty palisade of the border fence, without even getting your shoes wet.  The thinnest can slip between the stakes, as kids do, dashing into America—‘look at me, mom!’—and slipping back again over the line.  The Pacific’s relentless waves and salt spray have long ago eaten the fence’s metallic flesh, leaving a disheveled skeleton of rusty spikes, 12 feet tall, like the broken and bent teeth of a giant scaly comb.  Dogs wander back and forth, around the pickets of steel—sections of railroad track actually, driven endwise into the sand—and sniff the cluttered beach, crossing the invisible line, the abstraction of the international border.  

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