Recycling Club Brings E-Waste Awareness To Campus

Photo by Robin Weinstein.
Photo by Robin Weinstein.
Photo by Robin Weinstein.

For hours, members of the New Paltz Recycling Club collected all forms of E-waste including old computer towers, speakers, cell phones and CD players in giant bins in front of the Backstage Cafe on campus.

The club hosted an E-waste collection drive on Monday, Oct. 28 to give recyclers a place to dispose of their old electronics in an environmentally-friendly way. By the end of the day, the club had received two bins full of various E-waste materials as well as a large container of expired batteries.

As an incentive for people to come out and recycle, the club offered up a free apple cider donut to anyone dropping off their unwanted electronics. However, Club President and fourth-year student Melissa Iachetta said that people didn’t even need this incentive to be responsible about the environment.

“When planning the event, we just wanted to make it fun for faculty and students to recycle and give them an incentive for doing the right thing — but we found out throughout the day that people were barley focused on the donuts,” she said. “They really were concerned about disposing of their waste in a proper and environmentally sound way, which was really great to see.”

Recycling Club Secretary Gabrielle Buck said that this event wasn’t powered solely by the students of the college either.

“A lot of people from the community came out to recycle too — it was probably advertised just by word of mouth around town,” she said.

After item upon item was collected throughout the day, the Recycling Club turned the responsibility over to campus facilities to send the materials onto their next destination.

Campus Sustainability Coordinator Lisa Mitten said that after events such as this one, facilities management prepares the materials for pickup by reputable E-waste recycling company, Maven Technologies.

“Maven Technologies became the first electronics recycler in New York State to become certified by the Recycling Industry Operating Standard (RIOS),” she said. “This certification verifies that their electronics recycling practices meets the highest industry standards for quality, environmental, health and safety.”

At the event, statistics from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) were posted among the club’s table to remind the public how important E-waste recycling can be, not only to the environment, but also for human health.

One sign read “Of computers disposed in 2009, only 38 percent were properly recycled,” followed by another that read, “Computers contain hundreds of chemicals, including lead and mercury —which are known to cause cancer, respiratory illness, and reproductive problems.”

Besides raising awareness about E-waste recycling, Iachetta said that this event was also organized to let students know that they can bring their old or broken electronics and batteries to their RA offices — where they will then be appropriately recycled.

Iachetta also said the club is in the midst of planning its annual Sustainable Craft Fair, which will be held some time towards the end of November.

As for any more E-waste recycling drives in the future, Iachetta is already coming up with new ideas to project even greater turnout than this year’s.

“This semester we collected a lot more overall than anticipated,” she said. “We hope to do the event again next year with a longer advertisement period to give students the opportunity to bring E-waste from home.”