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Electronics Recycling Program

1. Cell Phone Recycling Program

1.1. What

The goal of this action is to create a system through which IES students can donate and borrow used cell phones and chargers which become obsolete once students leave for the United States.

1.2. Why


The status quo of cell phone use for IES Abroad students is significantly wasteful and unsustainable. A majority of students purchase inexpensive prepaid cell phones upon arrival in Barcelona. Once they leave, students usually dispose of their phones in the trash or take them home, where they will be thrown out at a later time. Consequently, every year hundreds of phones are purchased for brief use and then thrown out, which is considerably wasteful. Re-using cell phones is superior to recycling them; re-use is a variation of the Cradle-to-Cradle concept whereby waste items become the input for new items. Re-use prevents the production of waste for a certain time and recycling does not. Re-using instead of purchasing new phones and recycling reduces the demand for non-renewable electronics raw materials.

Throwing away used cell phones at the end of each semester is problematic because cell phones are a form of electronic waste, or "e-waste." Cell phones that are put in landfills leach chemicals such as lead, nickel, beryllium, mercury, cadmium, and brominated flame retardants. Some of these chemicals "have known toxicological effects that range from brain damage to kidney disease to mutations, cancers," according to an authority on waste management, Allen Hershkowitz. These chemicals can contaminate the soil and groundwater near the sites of landfills, which can be harmful to humans and the ecosystem. Over 100 million cell phones are thrown out annually, and the amount of e-waste around the globe is growing because of rapid changes in technology, "planned obsolescence" of consumer electronics, and the low cost of purchase of consumer electronics. E-waste also creates social problems because companies in developed countries ship e-waste to developing countries, where impoverished people work to extract raw materials from e-waste and become exposed to serious levels of toxic chemicals. Many experience serious health problems without making a reasonable living.

Lastly, the purchase, use, and disposal of cheap prepaid phones by IES students comes with an externalization of costs. The phones are significantly inexpensive (around 5-10 Euros), which does not account for the environmental and social problems caused by cell phone e-waste.

1.2.1. Potential Benefits


-Less financial cost to students
-Decreases demand for more cell phones and thus decreases raw material consumption
-Reduces amount of cell phone e-waste
-Promotes spirit of re-use
-Easy way for students to get a cell phone

1.2.2. Potential Costs


-One staff member, likely the receptionist, will have to take time to facilitate the Program, i.e. receiving the filled envelopes at the end of semesters and handing out the envelopes at the beginning of semesters
-RAs will have to take time to coordinate directly with their students to collect phones that students don't want to turn in directly at the IES center
-Financial cost of envelopes
-The time it takes to prepare the empty envelopes
-Storage space for the filled envelopes
-The time it takes to inform students of the Program via e-mail and orientation

1.3. How


Some of the exact details of the Program will be decided by Cesar when the time comes (for example, the contents of e-mails sent and who specifically will run the Program in future semesters.) To initiate the program, the administration will send out a program-wide email before the end of the fall semester 2010 to inform all current students of the cell phone Program and instruct them on how to participate. A faculty member will purchase recycled-paper envelopes and tape the information form (in the documents page) to the outside of each envelope. The envelopes will be kept at the reception desk. Students who want to donate their cell phones will fill out the information form and follow the brief printed instructions, which include putting the cell phone and charger in the envelope. Then the receptionist will take the envelope and keep it in a container (to be determined by Cesar or other faculty.) Furthermore, envelopes will be given to each RA. The RAs will contact their students and determine who will donate their phones. The RAs will coordinate with the participating students on how to collect their phones before they leave Barcelona, and then bring the filled envelopes (with the information form filled out) to the IES center.

In future semesters, the IES staff will use the airport orientation and the first official orientation to inform students of the cell phone Program and of the opportunity to borrow a phone for free. All of the phones will be kept with the receptionist and will be given out on a first-come-first-serve basis starting the first day of orientation. The receptionist will record the name of every student who borrows a phone, so as to keep them liable for the phone (I believe Cesar will determine the method.) At the end of the semester, students will return the cell phone and charger in the same envelope.


http://www.greenerchoices.org/electronicsrecycling/el_cellphones.cfm?page=NeedToKnow

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/11/06/60minutes/main4579229.shtml

1.5. Students involved in this action


Jack Krieger - leader
Annie Mickle - wrote all of the initial content and proposed ideas for how the plan would be carried out
Anna Katz - worked on the "Why" section

1.6. Specific Ideas/Brainstorming

Comments from the professor:

Keep in mind that much better than a recycling program is a program designed to avoid any waste. I mean, you could design the whole thing in the opposite way: by default cell phone would be owned by IEs Abroad Barcelona, and they would be rented (or lent) to students for a certain price. When the program finishes, if the students wants to collect the money back (if the cell phone was lent in exchange of a diposit - incentive to bring it back), they have to bring the cell phone X days before departure (X can be 1 or 0).

The other benefit for students to join the program of phones rented or lent by IES Barcelona is that they all would be using the same phone company, so that the phone calls among students and with IES Staff could be very cheap or even free, if some companies like "Yoigo" were the ones of the cell phone contract - http://yoigo.es - tarifa "la del cero" = free calls among yoigo cell phone).

Another option is to promote within the sustainability club members to join the same cell phone company, since portability to some of them (like yoigo, at least) can be performed at no cost if only the sim card is requested (or at a very cheap price for good phones which you can use back in USA - if a smartphone with triband is requested). And all calls are free within phones of the same company (in yoigo, and probably other more expensive companies).

 Assignment: Peer review form

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 Grades for this action report (From the PROFESSOR)

Items found: 1
A majority of students purchase inexpensive prepaid cell phones upon arrival in Barcelona. Once they leave, students usually dispose of their phones in the trash or take them home, where they will be thrown out at a later time. Consequently, every year hundreds of phones are purchased for brief use and then thrown out, which is considerably wasteful. How do you know that? Cell phones that are put in landfills leach chemicals such as lead, nickel, beryllium, mercury, cadmium, and brominated flame retardants. Some of these chemicals "have known toxicological effects that range from brain damage to kidney disease to mutations, cancers," according to an authority on waste management, Allen Hershkowitz. Reference for the source of that information? Who is this person, by the way (from which country)? More specific information was expected, or a proper reference to some item at the documentation. Some of the exact details of the Program will be decided by Cesar when the time comes (for example, the contents of e-mails sent and who specifically will run the Program in future semesters.) To initiate the program, the administration will send out a program-wide email before the end of the fall semester 2010 to inform all current students of the cell phone Program and instruct them on how to participate. [Need to confirm if this was done or not, etc. Pending answer from the Director of IEs Abroad Barcelona] Much better if you design some incentives for the students to give them back (if they provide a small diposit in euros, they have an incentive to bring the phone back, otherwise, it's too easy to just "forget"...), as well as a reinforcing loop with the requirement that students join the sustainability club in order to have a phone for free (in exchange of some ecoeuros that they gain with other tasks that they do for "the community", etc). Two easy opportunities that you didn't use (I wonder why; I already pointed one of them in you page long before the deadline of your report). I agree that this action is very important (to reduce electronic waste, etc.), even if no much creative design (or improvements from the design created for the same type of action in previous semesters) from your side, beyond RA collecting them (it was already proposed previously). (from Wiliam Bayer, and similar from Caroline): "I have received the e-mail sent out to all students, and I like the idea to coordinate a way to leave your phone for the RA to pick it up. If that works ..." Thanks William and Caroline, to provide the confirmation that the email was sent. (I had no confirmation from anybody else as of today Dec. 21st).


Page last modified on Wednesday 04 of April, 2012 17:13:35