NIU charged up for recycling program

By Megan Knowles

NIU is getting all charged up as it begins the first household battery recycling program in the state.

Student Association Recycling Director Rachel Vellenga submitted a proposal to Robert Vest, Business and Operations safety officer, and Pat Hewitt, associate vice president of Business and Operations, to collect batteries from the residence halls to recycle once a semester.

The batteries would then be deposited in a hazardous wasteland instead of DeKalb, Vellenga said.

The idea for the program came to Vellenga from NIU alumnus Robert Ray who designed the program for academic credit while attending NIU.

Ray said the idea was given to him by his boss as a whim and he “ran with it.”

He said there is already legislation being passed that says batteries cannot be thrown away with household garbage. Ray said his plan ensures that the batteries go to the hazardous wastefills where they belong.

Ray said Vellenga and he worked closely on the project. “I’m really excited to see it take off,” he said.

“Batteries are responsible for about 30 to 40 percent of all heavy metals leaching into ground water from landfills,” Vellenga said.

“To the best of my knowledge, we would be the first in the state to have a collection program,” Vellenga added.

She said the program is offered once a semester only to the residence halls. The residents will be responsible for bringing the batteries to the regular curb side pickup on that day.

The program is just for household batteries, which includes button-cell and alkaline batteries.

The tentative pickup date for the battery recycling program is scheduled to be May 2.