E-Cyclemania promotes e-waste control


Jared Bowman is one of many volunteer bike trailers who will transport e-waste from participating buildings to collection sites to minimize traffic during the collection event from 2 to 6 p.m. on Tuesday.

By Stephanie Kim

One aspiration Jonathan Bressler, senior in ACES, wanted to accomplish before graduation was to “get the ball rolling at e-waste control” at the University. On Tuesday, Bressler, along with other students and community members, will achieve this goal by participating in the 2014 RecycleMania Tournament.

RecycleMania is a national competition that works to reduce waste and landfill material on college campuses. On Tuesday, the University will compete  against 461 colleges in the division of E-cycleMania, which focuses on the collection of electronic waste. This is the first time the University is participating in RecycleMania.

Collection sites will run from 2 to 6 p.m. at the Allen Residence Hall circle drive, Ikenberry Commons at Euclid Avenue, and the Illinois Sustainability Technology Center in Research Park. Any electronics with a plug or powered by batteries will be accepted, apart from University-owned electronics. Heavy items that can’t be carried by cart should be dropped off at the vehicle drop-off behind the Illinois Sustainability Technology Center. To minimize traffic congestion, volunteer trail bikers will deliver e-waste from participating buildings to collection sites. Other volunteers include the Registered Student Organization Eco-munity, Champaign County Bikes and Tikkun Chambana. 

The event is a collaborative effort involving the University’s Facilities and Services unit, Residential Housing, the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center, and the Institute for Sustainable Energy and Environment. 

Bressler proposed the idea of competing in RecycleMania during a meeting that discussed e-waste at the beginning of the year, said Bart Bartels, Zero Waste coordinator and Facilities and Services staff.

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“He really was passionate about launching this initiative and doing an e-waste collection this year,” Bartels said. 

As a student in the department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, Bressler initially became interested in the issue of e-waste because of personal and academic reasons. But after researching the topic, he felt compelled to take action against the growing problem, he said. 

“Given that we’re running out of space for waste management, we need to start recycling more of our electronic waste,” Bressler said. “Especially with the waste regulation in place, we don’t really have an option anymore.”

The current waste regulations in place are a part of the 2012 Electronic Products Recycling and Reuse Act, a state law banning specific electronic devices from landfills.

The “landfill ban” is effective for two reasons, said Joy Scrogum, Emerging Technologies Resource specialist and co-coordinator of Sustainable Electronics Initiative.

“It’s important to reclaim precious materials, as well as keep out hazardous materials,” she said. “In the U.S., we only recycle 27 percent of our electronics. This event allows residents to easily get rid of electronic build up around their home.”

Once the event is over, the collected e-waste will be weighed, and the number of pounds will be reported to the national database. Materials then will be recycled by COM2 Recycling Solutions, an e-Steward certified company located in Carol Stream, Ill.. 

Because COM2 Recycling Solutions is a “responsible certified recycler,” community members can put their data security worries at ease, as all data from electronics is completely wiped out before it is recycled, Scrogum said.

For those who find dropping off their electronics a difficult task, Bressler said there’s a different reason to participate.

“The more people do it, the more culturally and socially acceptable it becomes,” he said. “Then we can conserve more materials and conserve more e-resources.”

The winning school in each category will receive national recognition, an award made of recyclable materials and the right to host that category’s next traveling trophy. 

Although RecycleMania is a national competition, those involved see it more as a “precedent” for the future of e-waste control on the University campus, Bressler said.

And while the weight of recycled e-waste determines the winner of the competition, Bartels said he defines winning differently.

“We’re, in a way, winners strictly by participating in this event,” Bartels said. “Anybody involved will feel a sense of accomplishment. However this event goes, it will give us a base line to compare ourselves against in the future.”

Stephanie can be reached at [email protected].