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E-waste recycling cabinets, like this one, are located in several places around the Athens Campus.

Photo courtesy of: Alexis Johns

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#SustainableOU: Electronic Waste

Technology rapidly changes and people want the newest product, leaving many people with devices that go unused but are not necessarily useless. After all, one man's trash may be another man's treasure.

Recycling and Refuse Manager Andrew Ladd says through Ohio University's electronic waste collection, computers, printers, laptops and cell phones are not the only recyclable items. Anything with componentry is recyclable. He says if it has a plug or runs on batteries, it can be recycled at Ohio University. Appliances, light bulbs, batteries and ink cartridges are a few examples of other items that can be recycled.

However, finding the right way to dispose of unwanted electronics can be difficult. Often they collect dust in storage or are thrown in the trash. This is why Ohio University provides electronic waste outlets to faculty, staff and students.

Personal Electronic Waste

Personal electronics can be recycled in two places, the Tech Depot and electronic waste (e-waste) cabinets.

According to Tech Depot Assistant Manager Josie Dailey, the items they receive include hard drives, entire computers and laptops, screens and monitors, chargers, disks, batteries, cell phones, CD's, DVD's and ink cartridges. She says they only receive recyclable electronics two or three times a week.

"Most frequent customers know about the service, but I would definitely say that a lot of students and faculty staff that have not visited the Tech Depot recently may not be aware that we offer this service," Dailey said.

A second option for recycling personal electronic waste is taking it to an e-waste cabinet. Ladd says there are over twenty of them spread out across campus in different buildings. Some of the major locations are Baker Center, Alden Library and Shively.

The refurbished filing cabinets are categorized with slots to recycle CD's and other data disks, cellphones, printer cartridges, light bulbs and batteries.

Academic Electronic Waste

Electronics owned by the University have special recycling requirements. Ladd explained "it is everyone's responsibility for anything that was purchased with state money and still has potential value to go through the Department of Surplus and Moving."

The electronics may then be redistributed across the Athens campus. For example, a printer in one academic apartment may be useful in another academic apartment.

Surplus holds auctions four times a year with items that have value to be resold. Academic departments and non-profit organizations have priority on the items, but anyone can attend.

Anything non-sellable then goes to Campus Recycling with the personal electronic waste.

Where do the electronics go?

Once the recycling department collects electronics, they are picked up by a partnered Columbus firm called Accurate IT Services. According to the firm's website, it guarantees that "electronic equipment will be recycled in the most environmentally responsible way."

Ladd says the firm will take monitors and TV's, printers and scanners, processor-bearing electronics (laptops) and non-processor-bearing electronics (keyboards, microwaves, hand-held video games, fans).

The University receives payment for different items. Also, the firm takes cathode ray tube (CRT) monitors for free, eliminating an annual $8000 bill for the university.

One thing Ladd stresses is that hard drives from academic departments are destroyed and never leave the Ohio University campus. Meanwhile, any hard drives that come from personal electronic waste undergo a 21 step wipe of the drive. They are then either refurbished and resold or destroyed for constituent parts, such as gold, steel and plastic.

"Things that may be waste at Ohio University are not necessarily waste elsewhere in the world. Cables, mice, keyboards, computers and more can be put back on the market," Ladd said.

So as the holiday season approaches, keep in mind a new electronic does not make an old electronic trash. They can easily be recycled or refurbished and resold through Ohio University's electronic waste collection.