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Last modified: Thursday, May 7, 2009

More than 700,000 pounds of e-waste collected at IU Bloomington, IUPUI

May 7, 2009

More than 700,000 pounds of computers, televisions and other electronic equipment is being recycled and properly disposed of thanks to Electronic Waste Collection Days, hosted by Indiana University Bloomington and Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

E waste collection photo

Photo by Heather Brogden

Workers load e-waste for recycling outside Memorial Stadium in Bloomington.

Print-Quality Photo

The free event was open last Thursday and Friday to all public and private schools, universities, businesses and nonprofit organizations and Saturday to the general public. Collection took place at the Memorial Stadium parking lot in Bloomington and the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis.

"We were thrilled with the turnout of local schools and businesses as well as the thousands of people who attended the consumer day," said Kristin Hanks, a sustainable-computing graduate student at IU Bloomington who helped organize the event. "Of the more than 300 people who have filled out our survey on the event so far, most indicate that they had been storing their items for years. They wanted to handle their electronic waste safely and were willing to wait until a free event came along."

None of the material collected at IU Electronic Waste Collection Days is being processed for resale, and 100 percent is being recycled and kept out of landfills, with recycling services provided by Apple.

Photo by Heather Brogden

Boxes of computer equipment and other electronic waste were collected.

Print-Quality Photo

Electronic waste often contains toxic materials, such as the lead that is present in cathode ray tubes of many televisions and computer monitors. If improperly disposed of, it can clutter landfills and damage the environment.

A recent report by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found that, in 2007, only 18 percent of electronic products that reached the end of their lifecycle were recycled. The EPA estimated by about 235 million electronic products were sitting unused in U.S. households.

"At the event, people told me that they were thrilled that items will not end up in a landfill or shipped to other countries," Hanks said. "Seeing the mountains of electronics being loaded onto the semi trucks made all of our time and effort worth it."

While last weekend's event was open to state institutions and businesses and the general public, IU campuses have hosted similar programs for university communities. IUPUI had its annual Toxaway Day last month, collecting household hazardous waste and electronic waste for recycling. Also in April, IU South Bend had a Tough Stuff Recycling Fest to recycle items such as packing foam, bubble wrap, egg cartons, plastic bags and shoes.

For more information from the EPA on reusing and recycling electronic waste, see