Last week, the Santa Clara community recycled a ton of e-waste. Actually, it was more than a ton. Staff and students came together to donate 2,198 pounds of old and broken electronics to the e-waste drive organized by the Solar Decathlon team.
E-waste, which consists of anything powered by a cord or a battery, is a growing environmental problem American consumers throw out between 300 million and 400 million electronic items a year. Only about 20% are recycled, leaving the rest to decay in landfills, often located in developing countries. Carcinogenic compounds from broken electronics can leach into the water supply, harming the people and wildlife that live nearby. Other electronics end up being burned, sending toxic fumes into the atmosphere.
The Solar Decathlon team took a stand against this injustice by partnering with a local company, ECS Refining, to encourage responsible electronics recycling. ECS Refining is e-Stewards certified, meaning they have promised to completely recycle old electronics, without ever incinerating e-waste or sending it to developing countries.
When ECS receives electronics that are no longer usable, they send the waste through a shredding and sorting system that breaks it down into commodities like plastic, glass, and aluminum. These components can be reused to make new electronics.
ECS arrived on campus the morning of February 20 to set up collection pallets in the Leavey parking lot, but from that point on, it was a student-run effort. Solar Decathlon team members took turns working to answer questions and help collect donations, some of which weighed over 50 pounds!
By 3:30 that afternoon, six full pallets of e-waste had been collected, including more than 20 monitors, a 4-foot tall flatscreen television unit, and an entire pallet of old printers. The drive was a success, bringing in e-waste from staff and students alike and raising awareness of responsible e-waste recycling methods.
Thanks to everyone who came out to our drive!
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