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Think Before You Toss: E-Cycling

By John Whipple and Marissa Malone

Published April 7, 2016

Tired of staring at your old, dusty laptop? It’s time to think about spring cleaning and recycling your old devices. But don’t just toss it! You will want to clean off your personal information and consider better options for the afterlife of your product.

John Whipple (UB Student, Class of 2018) is from Ketchikan, Alaska. He earned an Associate's Degree at NCCC in Massage Therapy and is an Intended-Nursing major at UB. His hobbies include hiking mountains, photography, board games, technology and nutrition. He aspires to be a Nurse Practitioner.

Waste Once, Pay Twice

The life cycle of electronics is growing shorter, leaving old electronics forgotten in drawers or piling up in landfills. The toxic metals in all these old cell phones, PCs and monitors are the fastest growing stream of domestic waste in the US.

According to the Environmental Leader, putting devices out with general trash is contributing to a predicted rise in global volume of e-waste from 41.8 million tons in 2014 to 93.5 million tons in 2016. The materials used to build many devices contain toxins such as lead (circuit boards), mercury (LCD displays) and cadmium (LEDs).

Repurposing old electronics would mean keeping toxins out of landfills and groundwater. E-waste currently represents 2% of the trash in United States landfills, but 70% of the overall toxic waste. We can easily have zero toxic waste production at the University at Buffalo, but how?

Easy as 1, 2...

So, what should you do in order to e-cycle your device?

1) Erase sensitive information from your device, using free software such as DBAN, to prevent identity theft

2) Locate an e-waste recycling facility or drop off point in your area

  • Close to UB North: Goodwill Industries of WNY – Tops, 3980 Maple Road, Buffalo is open 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. seven days a week.
  • The Sunnking website and Erie County’s electronics recycling page list other locations. 

3) Recycle at UB

  • UBReUSE will collect just about anything students might throw away, rehab it over the summer, and provide it for purchase (at yard sale prices) to new students in the fall. Collection tents will be available from May 8 to May 15, 2016 near the Ellicott Complex or Greiner Hall. In addition, UBReUSE bins will be placed throughout common areas in the residence halls. See which items are accepted. Again, be sure to erase sensitive information before recycling any device.
  • Large computer equipment is picked up twice a year for faculty. Contact UB Procurement Services at 645-2676 and ask ask for Inventory Services for more information.
  • Used batteries (AAA, AA, C, D, 9 Volt) can be deposited anytime around campus in dozens of labeled white buckets. Just some locations include Student Union lobby Information Desk on North Campus and Harriman Hall and UB Card Office on South Campus.

4) Repair Your Device

  • iFixit.com is a website which gives precise directions on how to repair any and all electronics yourself. Often something as simple as replacing your battery will allow you completely to repurpose your old device.
  • Pay someone else to repair your device. Stop by the Lockwood 2 floor Cybrary to talk to VITEC Solutions. They will repair devices under warranty for free, or repair for a fee based on the damage.

5) Sell Your Device

What else can I do?

To learn more about how you can make an impact and be more sustainable, visit http://www.buffalo.edu/recycling.