Earth Day: One Day, Three Collections

Bring electronic waste, as well as personal documents and unused pills, to the U on April 22 for responsible recycling and disposal.

Bring electronic waste, as well as personal documents and unused pills, to the U on April 22 for responsible recycling and disposal.

By Ayrel Clark-Proffitt, Sustainability Resource Center

Do you have old electronics that need to be recycled? What about a drawer full of tax returns that you no longer need but are worried about throwing away because of the personal information? Are there old pharmaceuticals in your cabinet that are expired and taking up space?

If you answered yes to any (or all!) of the above questions, we have an event for you.

2015earthdaycollections72dpiOn April 22, the University of Utah’s Sustainability Resource Center, Staff Council, and UIT are partnering with Salt Lake County Health Department, the Salt Lake City Police Department, Samsung, and Shred Masters to bring the community a three-in-one collection event. From 8 am to noon, the groups will be collecting electronic waste, pharmaceuticals, and shredding and recycling documents at the Rice-Eccles Stadium Parking Lot.

Even better, the entire collection event is free to the University community and Salt Lake County residents. (Please note that business waste will not be accepted.)

Karren Nichols, Staff Council president, appreciates the service the collection event provides for the entire Salt Lake community. In addition, Shred Masters, which will handle the paper shredding and recycling, is donating some of the proceeds from the sale of the recycled paper to fund University staff scholarships, which can be used for courses, conferences, and other professional development. Last year, Staff Council provided 22 staff members with $500 scholarships, and Nichols predicts there will be just as many this year.

Volunteers helped make last year's paper shredding drive a success for Staff Council.

Volunteers helped make last year’s paper shredding drive a success for Staff Council.

For Salt Lake County Health Department, the University of Utah collection kicks off its annual electronic waste collection season. Last year, the county collected 912,000 pounds of electronics, says Eric Michaels, household hazardous waste coordinator, and all of the waste was recycled responsibly thanks to funding from Samsung. Electronics in landfills are particularly dangerous because they can contain toxic substances, including brominated flame retardants in plastics and lead (particularly in older televisions and computers) that can leach into the groundwater, says Michaels.

Metech Recycling, a local electronics recycler, will provide recycling and disposal services for all electronics at the collection. Metech, a Certified e-Stewards Recycler, physically destroys all information storage devices, including hard drives, flash drives, and other memory storage devices, so no information can be recovered. For a list of accepted electronics, visit metechrecycling.com/list.htm.

The Salt Lake City Police Department will manage the pharmaceuticals collection stream. Improperly disposed pharmaceuticals also pose a threat to water quality.

It was Michael’s idea to include pharmaceuticals in this year’s U of U collection.

“Disposing of pharmaceuticals properly rather than flushing them helps twofold. First, this prevents endocrine disruptors from entering waterways and affecting aquatic life. In addition, proper disposal assists in the prevention of opioid abuse,” says Michaels.

Nichols is excited about this year’s three-in-one collection. In the past, Staff Council has collected small electronics at its paper shredding and recycling event, but it was a struggle because they couldn’t confirm the disposal practices.

Lead, especially in older televisions and computers, is one of the major concerns with electronic waste.

Lead, especially in older televisions and computers, is one of the major concerns with electronic waste.

“We’re combining our efforts,” she says. “We’re going to have a greater impact and greater visibility within community.”

Michaels agrees. “Combining events provides the convenience of easy disposal for residents of Salt Lake County. When partners like the U of U, Salt Lake Police Department, and Salt Lake County Health Department come together, we can provide the customer service residents of the valley deserve.”

So don’t forget: bring your old electronics, unused pills, and documents you want shredded and recycled to the Rice-Eccles Stadium Parking Lot on April 22 from 8 am to noon. Volunteers will be available to help unload larger items.

Ayrel Clark-Proffitt is the education and outreach coordinator for the Sustainability Resource Center and one of the coordinators for the April 22 collections event.

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