Campus collection sites overflow with e-waste

December 2, 2011

What do an old slide projector, a negative 80°C freezer and a laptop computer have in common? They all contain toxic materials such as lead, cadmium, and mercury that can leach into our soil and water supply if improperly disposed of in a landfill. Luckily, all of these items and many more were recycled in November as a part of the University of Chicago's e-waste collection.

The Office of Sustainability partnered with IT Services to offer a weeklong e-waste recycling collection as an opportunity for University staff, faculty, and students to dispose of difficult-to-recycle items. By the end of the week, the University community recycled over 16,000 pounds of e-waste! Printers, fax machines, and CRT computer monitors made up more than half of the e-waste collected. A special thanks goes to the Social Service Administration, Ratner Athletics Center, and Regenstein Library for hosting collection sites throughout the week.

Many staff members across campus chipped in by promoting the event in their buildings. Mike McCarthy, Building Manager for the Biopsychological Sciences Building, put a sign up at the beginning of the week requesting that departmental staff deposit their e-waste in a central location so that he could transport it to one of the main collection sites at the end of the week. According to McCarthy, "few items had been deposited by Thursday, but when I arrived on Friday morning, I was surprised to discover well over 300 pounds of e-waste waiting for me."

All e-waste collected throughout the week is currently being processed by ACME e-rase and e-cycle, which disassembles and recycles every component of every item that enters their facility, located just a few miles away in Bridgeport. In this process, all electronics are securely erased according to Department of Defense standards. Office of Sustainability staff has visited this facility and is working closely with them so you can be confident that these items are being recycled responsibly.

This was the University's third e-waste recycling opportunity. According to Colleen Lanier Christensen, Program Coordinator in the Office of Sustainability, "we added this fall collection in order to better meet the demand for e-waste recycling on campus. We still plan to hold the spring event, similar to last year, which will include drop off locations all week long plus a daylong collection on campus that is open to the entire community."

In the mean time, check out the Office of Sustainability's Recycling Directory to find out how to recycle many different everyday items. IT Services' Computer Recycling Program also accepts computers, laptops, monitors, keyboards, modems, printers, and scanners for recycling. Equipment can be dropped off at the Solution Center Warehouse located at 6019 S. Kimbark Ave.