Community e-recycles during Earth Week
By Jenna Johnstone
The Campus Activities Board and the Students for Sustainability club brought electronics recycling, or e-recycling, to campus with the help of 5R Processors, Ltd. April 17 through April 26 in recognition of Earth Week.
All electronics collected from this year's drive will be properly recycled. Last year, the on-campus e-recycling effort collected 588 items.
A drop-off site for electronics was set up near the main entrance. Students, faculty, and staff donors were asked to record their donation in a notebook provided.
"I brought in my old Blackberry," sophomore Chelsey Van Rossum said. "It was just sitting around my house and I didn't know what to do with it."
St. Joseph Food Program also hosted an e-recycling event April 19. The fundraiser invited community members to bring old computers and electronics to be recycled by a reputable local recycler, R3NEW Responsible Electronics Recycling.
All cash and a generous portion of the recycled value went toward supporting St. Joseph Food Program.
"R3NEW approached us to do the fundraiser," Karen Ziemke, development director at St. Joseph Food Program, said.
"We serve 1,000 families each week free of charge, so fundraising plays a large role,"
St. Joe's also recycles back to UW-Fox.
"We do composting that we give to the UW Fox campus," Ziemke said.
Most electronics were accepted at the fundraiser with the exception of televisions and computer monitors. Information on how to recycle these electronics was made available to patrons. The fundraiser also offered pickups for those who requested it.
Personal computers were the most collected item, totaling 50 pallets.
"We primarily do recycling for large businesses, but community is important," Marty Knupple, business development manager for R3NEW Electronic Recycling Company, said.
"We want to create awareness for recycling and give something back."
"R3NEW is an R2-certified high level of recycling, large companies won't do business if you're not R2," Knupple said.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, all electronics recyclers must become certified by demonstrating to an accredited, independent third-party auditor that they meet specific standards to safely recycle and manage electronics.
Currently two accredited certification standards exist, such as the Responsible Recycling practices (R2) and the e-Stewards standards.
"Basically we have to be audited several times a year and stick with those standards. There's like 50 operational procedures that we have to abide by for those audits, when it comes to selling our stuff downstream or whatever we need. If we don't follow those standards, then obviously our certifications get taken away from us," Knupple said.
R3NEW also recycles back to students.
"We work a lot with schools and offer students equipment at reduced cost," Knupple said.
Electronics contain valuable materials that can be recovered through proper recycling. They also contain hazardous materials such as lead and mercury that can pose a risk to human health and the environment if not properly managed.
"TVs in landfills are a problem because of lead, and R2 doesn't want TVs." Knupple said.
"The government needs a plan to provide disposals [for TVs]."
Properly recycling electronics has benefits. It removes the need for more raw materials, energy, and resources used to produce and distribute electronic components.
According to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), electronic recycling brought $5.2 billion in revenue to the U.S. in 2010.
States have different legislation regarding the issue which complicates the process.
According to the DNR, Wisconsin's electronics recycling law keeps many devices out of landfills and is a growing industry in the state, creating jobs and preserving valuable resources.
For more information on electronics recycling, visit www.dnr.wi.gov.