Thousands of cars — and the occasional biker — made their way to the last day of the fifth annual e-Waste Recycling Event held at Pioneer High School on Saturday.
Each year, the University’s Office of Campus Sustainability partners with Apple Inc. and Sims Recycling Solutions in Chicago, a company dedicated to making cost-effective, legal disposal services to the pan-North American area, according to their website, to host the event.
Andy Berki, manager of the Office of Campus Sustainability, explained that the first two days of the event are geared toward businesses and non-profit organizations, but the third day is focused on bringing the general public to Pioneer so consumers can dispose of their electronic waste.
“A big ol’ television in your basement can weigh up to 80 pounds and cost $40 to dispose,” Berki said, citing the e-Waste event as a way for people to get rid of products like these for free.
Berki said the e-Waste event is for the public, and the University does not dispose of any of its own material through the event.
“We feel like we want to focus the efforts and time of these three days towards the community as opposed to stockpiling everything (the University) generates in the year,” he said.
Marybeth Stuenkel, infrastructure services product manager in Information and Technology Services for the University, said the semi-trucks filled with electronic waste are shipped to Sims in Chicago where they are sorted depending on their makeup of plastic, metal or glass.
“Everything is separated out and then ground up, so if there’s any data, the data is destroyed,” Stuenkel said.
Stuenkel added that each year, the event’s goal is to exceed the previous year’s recyclable material collected.
“We’re actually expecting to do maybe not as much tonnage as before because electronics are just getting smaller and smaller,” she said. “It used to be that we’d get these big TVs that weighed a million pounds, and now we get the flat screens.”
Stuenkel explained that though the weight of recyclables may not increase, they have seen an increase in the number of cars each year, which suggests more people are aware of the event.
Melanie Fawbush, the account executive at Sims Recycling, said the day’s goal was to fill 12 semi-trucks with waste. Though they are not yet sure if their goal was reached, Fawbush said she thought they were on track to reach their average of about 400,000 pounds of waste by the end of the day.
“We are going to responsibly recycle this material. In essence, everything’s going to be shredded,” Fawbush said. “The benefit for the consumers or residents is that they don’t have to worry about their equipment. It has an end of life that we can guarantee them.”
Fawbush said most people bring in televisions and CRT monitors, which are the two hardest materials to recycle. She added that they try to get consumers in and out of the line in under a minute.
“The moment they hit the lot we only want them to be here less than a minute. 20 to 30 seconds is our prime target (time) for them to be here,” she said.
Fawbush said after Sims processes the recyclables, they use downstream vendors that remanufacture the materials.
“There’s a purpose in recycling — not just an environmental purpose but also a carbon footprint.”