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EnviClub collects e-waste in campus recycling drive

By Nicole Zhao     11/8/12 6:00pm


The Rice Environmental Club will host its second-ever electronic waste recycling drive on campus on Nov. 9. Funds from processed electronics will go toward a long-term training and employment program for people living with disabilities, according to McMurtry College sophomore Hutson Chilton, who organizes events for EnviClub. 

EnviClub is hosting the drive in partnership with Houston electronic recycling company CompuCycle as part of its WhatIf campaign. The campaign aims to collect and recycle 500,000 pounds of e-waste to aid the clients of Easter Seals Greater Houston, an organization that serves people with both physical and mental disabilities, Chilton said. 

Keyboards, routers, cables, hard drives, memory chips, alarm clocks, radios, hair stylers and batteries are among the items that can be submitted for the recycling drive, according to an official list of acceptable items provided by Chilton. 

Collection boxes have been placed in each residential college; the college with the most collected e-waste will receive an ice cream party, Chilton said. Large electronics, such as laptops or printers, can be dropped off in a box that will be set up in West Lot 5 from 1 to 4 p.m. 

EnviClub President Skye Kelty said she hopes the drive will help to educate students, faculty and staff alike about the need for e-waste recycling. 

"Batteries, iPods, other items students might have - they have some pretty hazardous stuff in them," Kelty, a McMurtry junior, said. "[Students] should keep that and dispose of it properly instead of just throwing them out in the trash. The departments have a ton of huge computers and lights and all kinds of things that haven't been dealt with. There's really not been too much done so far [with e-waste recycling], and there's definitely a huge need." 

Kelty said the difference between e-waste recycling and typical paper and plastic recycling is that electronics contain many metals and other elements that can end up contaminating landfills, the air and the water. 

This is EnviClub's first time partnering with a Houston organization for the drive. Kelty said she is excited that the partnership is local because that ensures the e-waste will not be sent overseas. 

"It's kind of scary when you don't know where your stuff is going because it could be making someone sick in China or anywhere else," Kelty said. "We wanted to try to get more local and support Houston organizations." 

EnviClub hopes to hold the drive every semester and eventually involve the Texas Medical Center to achieve a larger scale collection, Kelty said. 

Chilton said the drive makes recycling easy for Rice community members. 

"We're bringing recycling to you," Chilton said. "It's about as easy as throwing it away. You just have to bring it down to your college [commons]." 

Vice President of Development at CompuCycle Kelly Hess said CompuCycle is thrilled that EnviClub is involved. 

"This is exactly what we wished for with this campaign - the viral effect of donating waste in an effort to do good," Hess said. "We appreciate everything that the Rice Environmental Club has done and know that the clients of Easter Seals Greater Houston will benefit from the e-waste collected." 

Brown College junior and EcoRep Rande Patterson said she hopes the drive continues in future years and gains participation and publicity. 

"It's actually really cool that just by participating in the drive, you're getting rid of your junk, helping the environment and helping employ the disabled," Patterson said. 

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