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Collaboration leads to pilot e-waste recycling event

By Alec Jennings
University News Service
April 3, 2009

E-waste

 

Texas State University-San Marcos faculty and staff are inviting students and members of the community to participate in an electronic recycling event Saturday April 25, 2009 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Bobcat Stadium parking lot.

Through a collaborative effort from multiple university departments, private industry and the City of San Marcos, Texas State will host the pilot event to collect e-waste items such as TVs, DVD and CD players, hand held games, cameras, computers, electrical cords and a multitude of other electronic devices. 

"It's astounding how much e-waste people have in storage," said Lisa Arceneaux, environmental health and safety specialist at Texas State. "Finding a safe way to dispose of these items where they won't harm the surrounding environment is a real challenge for homeowners and city governments."

A recent study by the EPA concluded that electronic waste is the fastest growing element in municipal solid waste. The EPA also estimates that up to three-quarters of all computers sold in the U.S. remain stored in people's garages, closets and basements as people either don't know what to do with them after they become obsolete, or they are apprehensive to get rid of an item they once viewed as an investment. The materials in electronic components including plastics, glass and precious metals are also among the most recyclable.

If this year's event is successful, their goal will be to hold similar events each year, much in the way many municipalities hold household hazardous waste disposal days where people can dispose of paint or chemicals in a legal manner. Continuous, annual e-waste recycle events, Arceneaux said, will offer opportunities for a new recycling industry to thrive in the United States. Combining the enthusiastic efforts of university departments, the City of San Marcos and private industry will help to increase the events success and possibility for future collaboration.     

"There have been so many departments from throughout the campus and business community who have volunteered to be a part of this effort," Arceneaux said. "It's really made it a rewarding project to work on."

Furthermore, having the recycling industry at home not only makes sense from a dollars and cents, jobs and financial point of view, but it also makes sense in promoting a healthy community and environment worldwide. Keeping the industry in the U.S. can ensure that materials are disposed of and recycled responsibly, while providing jobs at home and decrease wasting finite resources. 

Students, faculty and citizens throughout the San Marcos community are encouraged to bring electronic items they are no longer using or no longer work to dispose of and recycle. They ask that people do not bring any Texas State equipment as there are existing protocol and contracts for its responsible disposal. Items such as stoves, refrigerators, microwaves or batteries will not be accepted.

Although steps to ensure security of identities and information will be put into action, the Office of Information Technology on campus recommends removing personal information from electronic devices before recycling. For more information about identity security and recycling, visit http://security.vpit.txstate.edu/awareness/ecycling_idtheft.html.

For more information about this event, what items to bring or not to bring or security please contact the Office of Environmental Health, Safety and Risk Management at (512) 245-3616 or visit http://www.fss.txstate.edu/ehsrm/programs/recycle1/ewaste.html.