It’s against the law to dispose of cell phones, batteries, computers, TV’s or other electronic waste (e-waste) in the trash, but it continues to be a local problem.

Campus helps properly dispose of e-waste

Bryan Cole / The Collegian

It’s against the law to dispose of cell phones, batteries, computers, TV’s or other electronic waste (e-waste) in the trash, but it continues to be a local problem.

On Saturday, Oct. 18, Fresno State stepped up for the health of the community during its Haz Waste Drop-off event held in parking Lot C on campus.

The event allowed residents to abide by the law and dispose of their e-waste in an environmentally friendly way.

“It’s against the law to throw electronic waste in the trash because it has hazardous components in it,” Lisa Kao, environmental health and safety manager at Fresno State, said. “By taking it here, it’s convenient and free and we will dispose of it in a responsible manner.”

Kao said the Department of Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) organized the event because of President John D. Welty’s encouragement for the university to be more involved in helping the community.

“We see this as a good way to help the community dispose of the waste properly,” Kao said.

E-waste that is not disposed of properly can contaminate the ground water.

“A lot of people don’t know that you can’t throw batteries away [in the trash] because the battery acid is an environmental contaminant,” Matt Harmin, sustainability coordinator at Fresno State, said. “You don’t want that to end up in the landfill and eventually in our ground water. It’s good for public health in general to dispose of things in a safe way.”

According EHS, if the device plugs into the wall, takes batteries, or uses other alternate sources of electricity, such as solar panels, and is no longer in use, then it is most likely e-waste.

“I think maybe people around here know the deal and don’t try to bring things that are totally off the wall,” Harmin said. “We got a toddler robot toy which I played with for a while before it was recycled.”

Computers, laptops, audio/visual equipment, fax machines, copiers, TVs and large appliances such as stoves, ovens, washers/dryers, microwaves, refrigerators and air conditioning units were all accepted at no-cost.

“There was one pair of guys who made three trips with their jeep full of computer stuff,” Harmin said.

One of the main things people are concerned about when recycling electronic equipment is the security of their information still on the hard drives.

“We keep the materials secure until they get to the recycle company and then they shred them,” Kao said. “Hard drives are shredded on site.”

Many people at the drop-off brought old items because they upgraded their offices or homes.

“It goes to show that people have too much stuff,” Harmin said. “Sometimes the only thing that’s wrong with the stuff is that they’re not shiny and new.”

EHS accepts all end-of–life electronic devices, but working electronic equipment should be sold or donated to prolong its use.

A large truck was filled with e-waste at the end of the eight-hour drop-off event.

“I think the more inconvenient it is for people, the more likely it is to go in the trash,” Kao said. “This event makes it convenient. So what ever we collected here didn’t end up in the trash and we are happy about that.”

The e-waste will be broken down to raw material in order to be economically useful for future electronics in the manufacturing process.

Jessica Medina, an e-waste customer and Fresno State employee said, “My grandma just bought a new microwave so we brought her old one over for her. It allows us to get rid of it and it’s better for the environment.” Medina also recycled three video game consoles and a stereo.

Liz, another e-waste recycler, brought three broken VCRs that she kept in her truck.

“I was trying to find a place to take them to,” Liz said. “I don’t like throwing things away, especially electronic waste because it has toxic components.”

EHS’s next event will be on Nov. 8, from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. But Kao warned if the department needed to start charging, they might cancel the event.