Guest Column: Old electronics should be donated, recycled

By Ryan Read

Picture this scenario: You are casually walking to class, listening to your iPod or checking your smartphone to get the latest news, and you walk by someone who has the latest tech in their hands. It’s faster, slimmer and more energy efficient, and you think to yourself, “I’ll eventually upgrade when the time is right.” But what happens to your old device when that day comes?

Did you know that electronic waste is growing exponentially? Televisions are used, on average, for less than two years; for computers, it’s three. Recycling, or “E-cycling,” these and other electronic items is critical for preserving landfill space and for ensuring that hazardous materials used to make electronics are properly disposed.

E-cycling is a great way to help reduce and reuse electronic materials. Non-profits and private businesses disassemble the electronic equipment and use the old components to assemble refurbished working systems, separate reusable parts for resale or recycle unusable components as scrap metal.

On our campus, several electronic waste (e-waste) collections have been conducted. In April 2009, the NIU Green Team held its first e-waste drive. The group collected a total of 3,805 pounds of mixed electronic equipment for recycling. In addition, about 30 cellphones were delivered to the DeKalb Lions Club for reuse, CFL lamps were recycled through the Environmental Health and Safety program and rechargeable and alkaline batteries were recycled, as were about 15 pounds of used CDs and DVDs.

Before you consider recycling your old electronics, you should look into donating those used electronics and extend the lives of those valuable products. Recycling electronics prevents valuable materials from going into the waste stream. Consumers now have many options to recycle or donate used electronics for reuse.

Many computer, TV and cell phone manufacturers, as well as electronics retailers, offer some kind of take back program or sponsor recycling events.

NIU will again collect e-waste and e-recyclables Wednesday. The collection will be from noon to 6 p.m. in the parking lot of the Building Services West at 1615 West Lincoln Highway.

Remember, just because it’s not the latest and greatest doesn’t mean it can’t be reused. When you E-cycle, you not only reduce the amount of waste that is created (both physically and digitally) but you also provide technology to those in need.