The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

EPA program promotes recycling electronics

In the lives of college students, the antics of a Friday night can often leave one asking, “why?”

If Saturday morning confirms the beloved cell phone had indeed drowned in the porcelain monster, the next step is usually the creation of an “I need numbers because my phone decided to swim with the fishes last night” Facebook group.

The Environmental Protection Agency supports a different step, however, one that has received both national support from popular electronic suppliers and local support from UW-Eau Claire and the Good News Jail and Prison Ministries.

Cell phones, along with other various electronics, are being recycled to protect the earth from their hazardous effects.

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Roxanne Smith, press officer for the EPA, said “recycling cell phones helps the environment by saving energy and keeping useable and valuable materials out of landfills and incinerators. Cell phones are made from precious metals, copper, plastics, and glass – all of which require energy to mine and manufacture.”

“I think there’s a concern with the state of our environment,” said student leadership and organizations coordinator, Angie Bong. “Anything that we can do to take the initiative to keep our planet clean is something to be concerned with.”

Cell phones, ink cartridges, iPods, MP3 players, PDAs, Palm Pilots, Blackberrys, digital cameras and the accessories to these items are all accepted for donation. A minimum of 30 items need to be in the box before it is accepted, Bong said.

The idea to start a recycling program at Eau Claire wasn’t originally the university’s.

“I was initially contacted by a community member to have Student Senate take on the project,” Bong said.

Alice Rapp, member of the president council at GNJPM and coordinator of Keep Our Planet Earth Green project, contacted Bong in hopes of expanding the project.

“I hope it provides more funds for our programs,” Rapp said of the project.

The GNJPM is an organization funded by contributions, and Rapp said they needed something else to support them.

“We were contacted by a firm in Idaho . and that there was a fundraising project to participate in,” Rapp said.

The proceeds of the donations, Rapp said, go toward the ministry’s commitment to provide spiritual growth, counseling services, Bible studies, church services, materials and coursework for the inmates and correctional staff to the surrounding area jails, as well as the funding of the chaplains.

The program, however, hasn’t been picked up by a student organization, Bong said, which is why many students are unaware of the options for recycling electronics.

“I’ve never heard of a university and commercial organizations having these drop boxes,” sophomore Kaleb Durocher said. “I’ve been in the situation where I’ve needed to throw a hazardous item away and had no idea of how to do it and didn’t want to drive long distances to do so . I think this is a valuable endeavor for the university.”

Durocher added he had heard of companies holding drop boxes.

“I’ve heard of Best Buy doing it, but I haven’t discarded any hazardous material personally at Best Buy,” he said.

Best Buy, along with ten other companies including AT&T, LG Electronics, Motorola, Nokia, Office Depot, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, Sprint, Staples and T-Mobile have partnered up with the EPA to support electronic recycling habits.

Kelly Groehlar, a spokesperson for Best Buy, said informing customers of proper distribution of electronics is what makes the EPA effort important.

“We’re the largest retailer of electronics, and we want to make sure our customers understand that we don’t want their products to wind up in landfills,” Groehlar said.

At Eau Claire, the drop box for recycled electronics can be found in the student organizations complex located in Davies. The box is blue with a sign on the front that reads “KOPEG.”

Durocher said he definitely will start recycling here at Eau Claire.

“I have been a recycler as long as I can remember,” he said. “Printer cartridges have been something I’ve recycled in the past and looked into recycling at school.”

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