Anyone in Knox County weary of storing an old, unused computer in the basement now has an environmentally safe recycling option.
Reliable electronics waste recycling comes to the community thanks to a partnership between Kenyon and the Delaware, Knox, Marion, Morrow Joint Solid Waste District. The district awarded the College a $15,200 grant that, in addition to improving recycling collection and signage across campus, will establish a drop-off center for electronics recycling, or e-waste, in Gambier.
Director of Green Initiatives Dave Heithaus ’99 believes the partnership is “exactly the sort of direction that the College wants to go in, in terms of providing service to the county.”
Heithaus collaborated with the Gambier Village Council on the grant application so that a shipping container will be placed near the Gambier Community Center, 115 Meadow Lane, where “the entire county will be welcome to come and recycle,” he said. Approved items include televisions, laptops, cables, cell phones, video game systems and other common electronic devices. The container is expected to be in place by the end of March.
A new e-waste collection center is a welcome sight for Jenna Hicks, director of the solid waste district. The district’s annual electronics recycling event can’t keep pace with the large amount of old and unused electronics in the area. “Knox County [is] kind of a black hole with TV recycling,” she said.
This dearth of electronic recycling options extends beyond Knox County. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that Americans recycle less than 20 percent of their e-waste. Many electronic devices contain metals, such as lead or mercury, that are toxic. In landfills, these chemicals have two paths: leach into the groundwater or diffuse into the atmosphere. Accordingly, part of the solid waste district mission is “to keep as much stuff out of the landfill as possible,” Hicks said. Grants like the one awarded to the College are part of that initiative.
Kenyon recently raised the stakes on its commitment to sustainability with the signing of the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment. “The amount of landfill waste that you can divert from the landfills will be a part of the carbon calculation,” Heithaus said. The College diverts 22 percent of its trash from landfills and into recycling streams. Heithaus hopes that the improved electronics recycling, signage, and more recycling bins around campus will bump that up to 35 percent.
— Timmy Broderick ’16