What better time to show off new tech recycling center than during CES

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U.S. Micro Corp. has opened a $15 million plant at the Las Vegas Beltway and Buffalo Road.

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Thousands of people are in town this week to see how consumer electronics are born.

Some of them took a little side trip to see where they go to die.

U.S. Micro Corp., a computer recycling company formerly based in Smyrna, Ga., officially opened its new 130,000-square-foot plant and headquarters in Las Vegas on Wednesday, inviting some of the crowd in town for the International Consumer Electronics Show.

While computer de-manufacturing and recycling have been under way at the new plant for about two months, U.S. Micro founder and CEO Jim Kegley decided that the middle of CES was an ideal time to show off the $20 million facility that includes a first-class weight room, game room and kitchen in addition to several lines of machines designed to chew up and spit out obsolete computers and electronics and grind them down to sand.

More than 300 people took tours and met U.S. Micro managers, and Sen. Dean Heller was on hand for the opening.

“I never thought I’d get the kind of reception we’ve received,” Kegley said after greeting customers and well-wishers. Kegley said he’s already signed up some casinos and gaming equipment suppliers to contracts to dispose of their old computers and devices.

Kegley said the challenge that lies ahead is getting the word out that the company is here and in operation to serve the Western United States.

The Consumer Electronics Association, operators of CES, sponsor several green initiatives including a Sustainable Planet TechZone dedicated to energy-efficient technologies. Trade Show Executive magazine in 2011 named CES North America’s greenest show.

About 90 percent of the devices brought to U.S. Micro are decommissioned, wiped clean of data and refurbished for sale as reconditioned units. The rest go through a series of shredders and separators to recover anything of value and to grind what’s left into sand.

After some of the valuable and recyclable metals are removed, the computers are separated, shredded and crushed before being turned into new products. Bicycle racks and curbing blocks are manufactured from the recycled materials.

The largest industrial shredder in the plant can chew through two tons of materials in an hour.

Data eradication is a key part of the U.S. Micro mission. The company destroys most data in the presence of its customers. Some data storage units that are sent to the company for destruction are locked in a highly secure vault in the building.

Since the time the doors of its Georgia facility opened in 1995, with 1 million IT devices processed a year, U.S. Micro says it has never had a data breach.

Kegley has said the plant, when fully operational in about a year, will have 100 employees, most of whom are being hired locally. Kegley said a handful of executives have moved from Georgia.