Graphic design students collect old cellphones for recycling

Students (from left) Delores-Rene’e Eddington, Nicole Smith, Amy Orban and Kurt Rohan developed the Recharge on Recycling project to help students recycle their old cellphones, rechargeable batteries and laptops. (Photo by August Jennewein.)

Lots of us have been there. We get the new shiny smartphone, and we plan to do something with the old one. The old phone sits on the coffee table while we check out the new features and set up our accounts, before it gets shoved into the junk drawer and completely forgotten. Until it’s time to move.

We might have the best of intentions, but it’s easy to forget to bring old devices to the recycling centers at some electronics stores. A group of graphic design students at the University of Missouri–St. Louis want students, staff and faculty to bring their old laptops, cellphones and rechargeable batteries to three locations on campus through May 5.

“Our group thought we might get a better response if we took the location to the students,” said Amy Orban, one of the students involved. “They’re coming here every day for class. It’s not out of the way.”

Orban and Nicole Smith, Kurt Rohan and Delores-Rene’e Eddington came up with Recharge for Recycling for a project in their graphic design class with Bruce Sachs. The students had to design materials for an awareness campaign and decided to take it out of the classroom and in to the real world.

In addition to arranging collection of the electronics, the students also researched information and produced materials that emphasize the importance of recycling and the damage done to the environment by tossing old technology in landfills.

Batteries are made from non-renewable materials such as lithium, lead and cadmium. Recycling batteries allows those components to be reused, which reduces the need for more mining of those materials. Cellular phones also contain chemicals that can leach out of landfills and contaminate groundwater. Recycling means those materials stay out of the landfill, and out of the groundwater.

Old laptops, cellphones and rechargeable batteries can be recycled at collection points on the main level of the Millennium Student Center, the bridge to the Millennium Student Center and the main entrance of the Fine Arts Building. Everything contributed will be taken to Midwest Recycling Center in south St. Louis County.

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