Bringing awareness to e-waste on campus

From left, Ngashi Li, Pratik Giri and Rong Zhang hang a poster about electronics recycling in Old Main. The three tourism students are doing a project on making the campus more aware of electronics recycling on campus. PHOTO BY MIMI NAKAMURA

Sarah Makowsky:  News Editor  Ω

There’s a place on campus to recycle electronics and batteries, but ask a random person where it is and chances are they won’t know.

Electronics like cell phones, calculators and batteries can be dropped off for recycling in the Independent Centre. The recycling program is run by TRUSU and is the only location on campus that accepts electronics.

Tourism students Pratik Giri, Ngashi Li and Rong Zhang are spreading the word about electronics recycling at TRU. As part of a project for a course about environmental issues in tourism, the trio is tasked with building awareness around recycling electronics.

“We’re just trying to make people more aware,” said Li.

“It’s not important just because we’re doing a project, there are global ramifications,” said Giri. Recycling of electronics is applicable to the entire student body.

To kick off their project, the group conducted an online survey asking people if they knew if and where TRU has a place to recycle electronics. They received 87 replies and 80 per cent, or 69, of respondents didn’t know there’s a place on campus to recycle electronics.

The group spoke with a TRUSU representative and learned that the electronics recycling program has been in place for two years.

They also discovered what happens to the electronics after they’re dropped off and that actually recycling them comes at a cost to TRUSU.

“They only ship to Vancouver once a year, no one picks it up from the school,” said Li. TRUSU has to pay to send the recyclables to the Lower Mainland where they are properly disposed of.

“The student union is doing their part and now it’s time for us to, too,” said Giri. “I think something should be done.”

Aside from the survey, Giri, Li and Zhang are using other methods to raise awareness of electronic recycling at TRU.

They’re putting up posters and have ads on TVs all over campus.

“[The TV ads] just started, so we’re excited about that,” said Li.

The group is also spreading information through another powerful medium—word-of-mouth.

“People talk, it’s easy,” said Giri.

“Pretty much everyone has a cell phone,” adds Li. Because we live in a time where technology becomes outdates as quickly as milk left in warm temperature turns sour, there’s a need to dispose of electronics properly.

As far as long-term effects of their project are concerned, the group suggests that more electronic recycling bins be placed around campus other than just in the Independent Centre.

Zhang said she hopes that one day a recycling facility that collects e-waste will be built on campus.

The group will present their project at the end of the semester and a video version will also be posted on TRU’s Facebook page.

To learn more about their project, visit the group’s website at sites.google.com/site/gogreebgogreen/home.