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Updated 10:00 AM June 8, 2009

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Climate Savers collect 263 tons of e-waste at free recycling events

Everything from old computers and keyboards to antique telephones and radios stacked up in parking lots across Southeast Michigan as part of the Climate Savers Computing Initiative @ U-M's annual free electronic-waste recycling event.
Computer equipment and other electronics are dropped off at Pioneer High School. (Photo by Scott Soderberg, U-M Photo Services)

The public events in early May expanded this year to all three university campuses, making the trek a bit easier for the nearly 3,000 cars that hauled nearly 263 tons of e-waste to the various sites.

In addition to keeping the equivalent of 21 semitrailers of hazardous elements from contaminating soil and water systems, valuable metals, plastics and glass were returned to the commodity stream for reuse. The e-waste event was a collaborative effort involving Ann Arbor Public Schools, Ford Fairlane Program Center, Genesee County Land Bank and the Washtenaw Intermediate School District.

Electronic waste, or e-waste, is the fastest growing waste stream in the country. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that Americans dump 3.2 million tons of it into landfills every year.

Additionally, campus participation in the Power Down for the Planet Challenge prompted EPA recognition of the university as a top ENERGY STAR Pledge Driver. The ENERGY STAR campaign encourages Americans to make small lifestyle changes in order to increase their energy efficiencies with lighting, heating/cooling, and other equipment.

The challenge cultivated a high number of pledges on campus to use computer power management settings at home or work, and to buy an ENERGY STAR qualified computer. Students led the way with 1,981 pledges and staff with 1,905. Leading units included LSA, the College of Engineering, and Business & Finance.

The collective impact of the 19 schools involved in the Power Down for the Planet Challenge resulted in a carbon credit of 3,197 tons per year.

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