By Casey Tolliver
If you have ever been to the Richmond campus, chances are, you have been in close proximity to dangerous toxic substances.In fact, there are poisonous heavy metals and corrosive electrolyte solutions throughout your house, and even in your car.
Found in batteries, these hazardous wastes are detrimental to the environment, dotting the landscapes and landfills with poison; other than simply throwing them in the trash, there is no effective and convenient way to dispose of batteries.
The Universal Waste Battery Program, a new environmental stewardship program, plans to try to reverse this practice at Eastern by providing the preferred disposal alternative for hazardous batteries on campus, according to the UWBP outline.
“The biggest thing we want to do is to let the university community know that we are rolling out this recycling program and pay attention when you check out what can be recycled,” Eastern Facilities Services recycling spokesperson Randy Wilson said. “Some batteries contain lead and mercury and these are horrible to the Earth. The lithium batteries, when they decay, they release ether.”
Students wishing to responsibly dispose of their batteries can ask for a Universal Waste Battery pre-printed envelope from their building supervisors or residence hall advisers.
The universal waste batteries and the university’s collected e-scrap waste are processed at Kentucky Recycling.
Batteries contain several components that can be recycled, but the focus is primarily on the recovery of metals, including mercury, silver and cadmium, according to the UWBP outline.
Wilson said the UWBP is a unique program and Eastern is one of few universities in the state with a battery recycling program.
“This is a fairly new program, and I’m excited about it,” Wilson said. “It means that we’re going to be leaders in environmental sustainability, and that is something most of the other universities aren’t doing.”
A few other universities have also hired outside recycling coordinators, but recycling programs done at Eastern are done “in-house”, Wilson added.
With Facilities Services’ commitment to environmental and recycling issues, the scope of its projects is broader than just recycling batteries.
Facilities Services works to recycle numerous waste products at Eastern: plastics, newspaper, ink cartridges and cell phones are only some of the items on its list.
In addition to its budding work with batteries, Facilities Services also has a partnership with Habitat for Humanities in the Cans for Habitat program.
Because of programs like Universal Waste Battery and Cans for Habitat, Eastern is a model for recycling for other regional universities and the community, according to the Eastern Recycles Web site.
The next recycling project for Facilities Services is end-of-semester recycling, which may appeal to seniors and other students exhausted by the semester.
“If you have any notes, throw them in the recycle bin,” Wilson said.