Champaign County Residential Electronics Collection Event Scheduled for Oct. 14, 2017

The next free electronics recycling collection event for participating communities in Champaign County, IL is scheduled for October 14, 2017. The collection will take place from 8 AM to noon at Parkland College (2400 W. Bradley Ave., Champaign). Use the Duncan Road entrance and follow the signs.

There is a 10 item limit for participating residents, and a 2 TV limit. All sizes, types, and models of televisions are accepted. This is of particular significance, because although there are multiple businesses that do accept various types of electronics for recycling year-round, there is currently no place in Champaign County to recycle older, bulkier cathode ray tube (CRT) tvs. (See the Champaign County Electronics Recycling Guide for information on businesses that accept electronics for recycling, including items accepted and contact information).

Participating communities include:  Bondville, Broadlands, Champaign, Gifford, Homer, Ivesdale, Ludlow,
Mahomet, Ogden, Rantoul, Royal, Sadorus, Savoy, St. Joseph, Thomasboro, Urbana, and Unincorporated County. Due to the popularity of these collection events, residents must register at www.ecycle.simplybook.me. Online registration opens on Tuesday, September 5, 2017 at 8 AM.

See http://www.co.champaign.il.us/ReduceReuseRecycle/PDFS/20171014PC.pdf for further information, including items accepted at the collection event. Questions can be addressed to the recycling coordinator in your community:

  • City of Champaign: 217-403-4780
  • City of Urbana: 217-384-2302
  • Champaign County: 217-819-4035

image of post card announcing residential electronics collection event on october 14, 2017

 

 

Competition ‘Veteran’ from University of Limerick Pursues Interest in E-Waste Reuse

Damian Coughlan is no stranger to the International Sustainable Electronics Competition. For two years in a row, the now Ph.D. researcher at the University of Limerick has won a Silver award for his entry Loopbook (2012) and as part of a bigger team with the entry Laptop Design for the Future (2011).

We recently caught up with Damian to see how the competition has affected his educational and career aspirations.  Coughlan stated, “Receiving the Silver Award in this competition has had a huge impact on my current circumstances. Since graduating with my degree in August 2012 I have received a scholarship to continue research towards a PhD. The funding is being provided by the Irish Research Council and the European Recycling Platform. I had mentioned the award from 2012 as part of my application and I have no doubt that these awards helped me considerably. I have now started the PhD in Sustainability since October 2012. I visited TU Delft in the past week to gather some feedback for my research and my presentation featured my awards which definitely helped raise my profile. My current research is looking at the subject of electronic waste [and] the possibilities of reusing the waste in a different context.”

This year, as an optional extension of the competition, the UIUC Technology Entrepreneur Center  has offered to provide constructive  feedback to students who opt-in as part of their submission. This advice is not a means of taking a concept to market, but is offered as a resource for entrants to explore furthering their concept with appropriate resources. When we asked Damian about his plans for Loopbook, he stated, “Regarding the Loopbook, I had considered the option of bringing it to market but currently I feel there are too many barriers to be overcome by technology before the Loopbook could be ready as a consumer product. However I do still think that it could be a great idea if it could be fully developed. I do think the option of bringing a possible product to market would be great outlet for the competition and innovation.”

We wish Damian the best in his Ph.D. studies and research. We know he will be someone to look out for in the future of innovative computing technologies.

As a reminder, registration for this year’s competition opens on September 1, 2013. See the competition web site for complete details. Registration is free, and cash prizes are awarded.

The Controversial Issue of Prison Labor

A month ago I posted an article about the differences between two types of certification programs for electronic recyclers.  The post elicited a frenzy of conversation.  A lot of the discussion had to do with defining aspects that made a recycler good or bad.  The use of prison workers in the recycling industry was one of these aspects in question.  BAN, a company in charge of one of the certification programs, is very much against the use of prison workers but many disagree.  So, what are the benefits to prison labor?  What are the reservations?

The program in charge of the United States federal inmates training program is UNICOR, Federal Prison Industries (FPI.)  The Recycling Business Group (RBG) is a section of FPI; it allows inmates to collect and repair/recycle electronics.  There are 8 RBG facilities across the US; none are able to be a part of certain certification programs due to their status as an inmate training program.

2001_o_brother_where_art_thou_006[1]No doubt prison labor has a bad rap.  Does the opening scene of “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” come to mind when I mention prison labor?  Some may picture these chained road gangs swinging axes in the hot sun and therefore, consider prison labor to be harsh.  Others may be under the opinion that prisoners have committed a crime and are paying for it so allowing them to have a job, something to occupy their time, almost as if they were not in prison at all, is too sympathetic.

Today’s prison labor is nothing like the work done by the Soggy Bottom Boys, nor is it a free pass out of prison.  Prison worker facilities are extensively scrutinized by OSHA, NIOSH, FOH and more to ensure worker safety and health.  Inmates work hard but the benefits pay off.  Inmates better themselves, can contribute to their families, and help the environment all at the same time.

Work is not only a way to acquire skills; work also fulfills a desire felt by all humans.  After physiological and safety needs, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs states that humans need to feel a sense of belonging.  And following that is a need for self-esteem (avoiding the feeling of worthlessness.)  The lack of these feelings can only encourage bad behavior.   Contributing to society through work would definitely have a positive effect on your approach to society. And so it has.  Inmates who participated in FPI’s industrial or educational programs were 24% less likely to return to prison than inmates who did not participate in FPI.  So, just about one out of four former inmates will avoid going to prison again just because they had an opportunity to work in prison.  They were also less likely to incur misconduct reprimands during their time in prison, to commit crimes after release, and more likely to find better paying, full-time jobs.  It also benefits the prisoners by contributing financially to their court-ordered fines, child support, and/or restitution.

BAN, the company in charge of one of the certification programs, expressed concern that prisoners are working under unsafe conditions and that using prison labor for the handling of e-waste is unsafe in terms of protecting your data.

Thankfully, this is not the case; UNICOR has safe working conditions.  Since prison staff work in the same facilities as prison workers, the facilities have to follow every law in terms of facility management.  In fact, along with the OSHA, NIOSH, and FOH checks, UNICOR’s recycling factories are inspected and reviewed by environment, health and safety regulatory agencies at the state and federal levels far more extensively than private sector recyclers.

As for the security issue, prisoners are not able to read hard drives in the facilities.  Prisoners are also not able to remove the hard drives from the factories.  Many private sector recyclers are not able to ensure this kind of security.  For example, one of UNICOR’s new clients destroys their hard drives themselves before they send it for recycling because they want to be certain that their information is destroyed.  This company switched from using a private recycler to UNICOR and as soon as UNICOR received their first trailer load of equipment, UNICOR noticed that some of the company’s hard drives were not destroyed.  UNICOR informed them immediately of the 8 hard drives still intact.  The company was shocked that the private company never informed them that this had been happening.  The company made some improvements which led to the second trailer load having only 2 hard drives still intact.  UNICOR also informed them of this.

There are a number of benefits to UNICOR but the overall point is to prepare inmates to be productive members of society when they leave prison.

“We must accept the reality that to confine offenders behind walls without trying to change them is an expensive folly with short term benefits — winning the battles while losing the war. It is wrong. It is expensive. It is stupid.” – Chief Justice Warren E. Burger, our Nation’s 15th Chief Justice.

Since there is an overcrowding of prisons in the United States, it is my opinion that it is more important than ever to start working on a solution to help people who need work experience the most.  Keeping them out of everyone’s way is no longer the answer.  We have to work towards improving their lives.  

Please look into this topic for yourself and feel free to share your opinions by commenting on this post.

 

The statements of this blog may not reflect the views of the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center, Institute of Natural Resource Sustainability, or the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.