Third annual recycling event collects over 36,000 pounds of e-waste

June 1, 2012

On Friday, May 18, University affiliates and community members converged on the Kimbark Gravel Lot. From computers and vacuums stashed in station wagon trunks to DVD players and cell phones loaded on bike racks, everyone had plenty of old electronics in tow. Throughout the day, hundreds attended the third annual e-waste recycling event, which netted over 36,000 pounds of electronic and scientific equipment for recycling.

Combined with the e-waste collected at the campus collection points offered in November, the University recycled over 52,000 pounds of e-waste this year, over 20% more than the previous academic year. Mike Janecek, a Woodlawn resident who works near the Kimbark Lot, reflected, "everybody has TVs and other electronics they need to get rid of, but there are few opportunities to responsibly recycle them. Given the amount of toxins in these items, it's important to get this stuff out of landfills." Many others agreed, reiterating their appreciation for this service.

SAGE Ambassadors 'Key to Success'

"We had a great turnout and collected tons of e-waste," noted Sustainability Program Coordinator Colleen Lanier Christensen. "As with last year's event, SAGE Ambassadors were key to our success. Ambassadors arrived as early as 7am, generously volunteering their time and energy to set up the event, directing traffic, unloading e-waste, and discussing the University's sustainability program with attendees. In addition, they played a key role in getting the word out to the campus and community and facilitating collections within their own buildings. We really couldn't do it without them."

The event—a partnership between the Office of Sustainability, IT Services, the Office of Civic Engagement, and Facilities Services,—was an opportunity to responsibly dispose of difficult-to-recycle items. A variety of items were collected: TVs, cell phones, computers and monitors, printers, game consoles, table-top appliances, light bulbs, keyboards, shredders, vacuum cleaners, batteries, typewriters, speaker systems, and air conditioners. By collecting and properly recycling these items, materials were diverted from the landfill and the contaminants often found in these items won't leach into the area water supply, nor will they be destined for toxic, unregulated dumps abroad. Read our inaugural Ask Ignacio column for more information on e-waste.

Staff Assistance

All week long, there were designated drop-off locations for those who could not attend the event. Thanks to the Social Service Administration, Ratner Athletics Center, Regenstein Library, and the Gordon Center for Integrative Science for coordinating these drop-offs. More than half of the e-waste recycled was collected at these locations alone.

Staff across campus contributed to promoting the e-waste collection in their buildings and departments. SAGE Ambassadors—including Ray Parpart of IT Services, Pat Monaghan of the Humanities Division, Nate Granatir of the Booth School of Business, and Janet Capodagli of the Institute for Mind and Biology—and their colleagues organized special internal collections for building occupants with one cumulative pick up at the end of the week. The University of Chicago Medicine and Biological Sciences buildings also hosted a Spring Cleaning initiative to collect and responsibly dispose of chemical waste, old lab equipment, paper, furniture, and e-waste.

Responsible Recycling

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

For more on the event and items collected, check out our photos on Facebook (and be sure to "Like" us while you're there!).

Recycling Directory

For those who missed the event, check our 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

Equipment can be dropped off at:

Solution Center Warehouse
6019 S. Kimbark Ave.
Chicago, IL 60635