Volume One Special Coverage: Pulling Together While Staying Apart


First Choice Is a Green Choice

award-winning company keeps your electronic junk out of the landfill

Pan Thao

Fifteen years ago, Greg and Bobbie DeVoll came across a newspaper article about how computer and electronic refuse was going to be the next big waste concern for the United States because of harmful materials such as lead and mercury. With advancing technology, it’s no surprise e-waste (electronic waste) is being generated at an alarming rate. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always break down easily and builds up in the environment. How bad is it really? Well, let’s just say a circuit board doesn’t even start to disintegrate for 200,000 years. Before the laws changed, a lot of computers and electronics were landfilled.

“It’s still cheaper to recycle copper, aluminum, and steel than it is to mine it, and recycling allows us to put it all back into the industry.” – Greg DeVoll, First Choice Computer Recycling

After doing some research, the couple decided to help the Chippewa Valley live a little greener by opening a family-owned recycling business called First Choice Computer Recycling. They provided services out of a tiny warehouse, and from there, they gained new customers, brought on more employees, and moved to a larger facility on Park Ridge Court on Eau Claire’s west side. This year, they were honored for their work, winning a 2017 Sustainable Eau Claire Award for Waste Reduction, Composting or Recycling.

About eight years ago, Wisconsin passed a law banning all electronics from landfills. Before that, folks threw printers, televisions, and other electronics right into the landfill even though they weren’t wanted there. With the state Department of Natural Resources getting involved, recycling has really come a long way. Even with the new law, however, the biggest issue continues to be televisions, which contain leaded glass.

According to the DNR, there are about 8 million televisions to recycle in Wisconsin with every household averaging about five TVs. Last year, the DeVolls and their team processed about 600,000 pounds of television, and this yea, that number will double. Unfortunately, televisions aren’t the only component of electronic waste: Each year, the team recovers 7-8 million pounds of waste!

“It’s still cheaper to recycle copper, aluminum, and steel than it is to mine it, and recycling allows us to put it all back into the industry,” Greg said. “We try to keep our scraps as close to home as possible and within the Wisconsin border to help create jobs here.”

If you have e-waste to dispose of, there are things First Choice Computer Recycling won’t charge for and can dismantle right in its warehouse, such as keyboards, cell phones, and laptops. They’ll charge to take other items – such as TVs and major appliances – off your hands. For a full list, check out firstchoicerecycling.com.

First Choice Computer Recycling is open six days a week, and offers a pick-up service for consumers and businesses within an 80-mile radius. They also have a Spring Cleanup Earth Day Event and a Fall Cleanup in October for residents of Eau Claire and Chippewa counties.

With a growing business, Greg and Bobbie have brought on two new partners with lots of energy to help expand. The couple is confident their new partners are right for the job because of their background in the industry and the fact that they too call Eau Claire home.

Future plans for First Choice Computer Recycling include creating programs to get more homeowners from surrounding counties involved. With an increase in volume, the team hopes to bring lower pricing to the Valley, making every day feel like Earth Day.

“If we can make it so people want to recycle, it will be better for everyone and the planet,” Greg said. “It’s always about trying to streamline and make it better.”

First Choice Computer Recycling • 525 Park Ridge Court, Eau Claire • (715) 833-2005 • firstchoicerecycling.com

Lasker Jewelers
Lasker Jewelers

Pulling Together Partners

The following organizations are currently supporting Volume One’s work in the community during the pandemic:

Lasker Jewelers

L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library, Eau Claire

Downtown Eau Claire Inc DECI

University of Wisconsin Eau Claire

Pablo Group

Wisconsin Independent Network

Middle West Management

Bon Iver

Royal Credit Union

Silver Spring

Evergreen Surgical

Charter Bank

The Murty Henriksen Family

The Larry and Marie Past Family

The Dan and Kerry Kincaid Family

Anton and Rae Schilling-Smets

Brady and Jeanne Foust

If your organization is interested in supporting Volume One during this difficult time, nick@volumeone.orgcontact us.