Money gets students recycling

| October 29, 2013 | 0 Comments

The warm fuzzy feeling that you’re helping to save the planet when you recycle should be enough. But, according to a spokesperson at Coastal Carolina University in South Carolina, USA, it’s still a mission to get staff and students to recyle their trash. What’s motivating some students and academics to change their behaviour is money.

FundingFactory, based in Erie, Pennsylvania, is now paying American universities and colleges for their used ink and toner cartridges, as well as cellphones and computer components, which often contain valuable plastics and metals. It then diverts the e-waste away from landfills and into the US$20-billion-a-year electronics recycling market. Says the recycling company: “What we noticed is the amount of waste they were sending in – that is really the gold mine of what we are looking for. It almost seemed like a no-brainer for us to get into this marketplace.

These schools and universities are really small cities.” FundingFactory wants to reach 500 campuses by mid-2014. It provides colleges with collection boxes and address labels at no cost and pays for shipping the e-waste back to its facility, where the material is sorted. Some of the items will find their way back into the supply chain in a refurbished form, while other items are broken down for trace materials. About 9% is converted into energy. FundingFactory walks its own talk, keeping all its materials within the US, and being able to prove responsible management.

Those institutions that send e-waste to FundingFactory can either receive cash or reward points towards purchases from the company’s catalogue of digital products. Coastal Carolina University has been sending ink cartridges and cellphones to FundingFactory since 2005. Over the last academic year alone, the university shipped a total of 2 400 pounds of e-waste. At the University of New Hampshire, students drive the recycling programme. Trash to Treasure (TTT) is an annual giant yard sale of items left on campus by students the year before.

From its inaugural 2010 sale, TTT made US$30 000, which was used to create a campus bike-sharing project and to kick-start an e-waste recycling programme. TTT has now become a national non-profit organisation called the Post-Landfill Action Network (PLAN), which assists other tertiary institutions to collect, move and recycle waste, and to create sustainable conservation campus initiatives. 

Category: Summer 2013

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