UGA Sustainability, WUGA sponsor happy hour drive for recycling electronics

Posted: Monday, April 22, 2013 11:00 am
Jeanette Kazmierczak

Have old batteries, computers, televisions or other electronics sitting around? Try dropping them off at the Happy Hour Recycling Drive Tuesday at 5 p.m. at the Intramural Fields Parking Deck. You don’t even have to get out of your car.

The event is a cooperative effort between the University of Georgia’s Office of Sustainability, WUGA Radio and the Athens-Clarke County Recycling Division.

“We’re the primary organizers and coordinators of the event,” said Kevin Kirsche, director of sustainability for UGA. “This will be our second year of hosting a Recycling Happy Hour on campus.”

Kirsche said the drive started last year as part of a sustainability grant and its success encouraged them to make it an annual event.

“I think there were 175 vehicles that came through the Happy Hour,” he said. “It’s a drive-through recycling event. What was also very cool, in addition to 175 cars and trucks there were three bikes. We’re proud of UGA students who biked through the line with their electronic recyclables.”

Kirsche said people came from seven different counties and dropped off 1,678 pounds of electronics – not including the items that were deemed reusable.

WUGA got involved when Abbie Thaxton, a traffic director for the radio station, contacted Kirsche about a possible community service partnership.

“We wanted to do something that was kind of unique, and kind of ‘What do you do with it?’. So I love the idea and last year it was so much fun,” Thaxton said. “Hearing where everyone comes from and if I heard it once I heard it 50 times – ‘I am so glad to know I can get rid of these light bulbs or get rid of this TV.’”

She said the event owes a lot to UGA Parking Services for helping with the organization of the drive-through line.

Athens-Clarke County Recycling Division takes the electronics and other hard-to-dispose items dropped off at the event.

“Back in 2005, we were the first county in the state of Georgia to have an ongoing recycling program for electronic material,” said Suki Janssen, a waste reduction administrator.

The county also accepts all the same items year round – Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. –, Janssen said.

“What we noticed is people still needed after-hours times during the week and so we decided to start Recycling Happy Hour two years ago,” she said. “We had the first one here at the recycling facility.”

She said the county has collected 10 tons more per year on average since its start in 2005 and took up 84 tons last year but they felt they could do more to make students aware of the resources provided by the county.

“Sometimes people on campus don’t know what’s going on outside of campus,” Janssen said.

Not all of the items dropped off Tuesday will go to the county for recycling, Kirsche said. Some of them will go to local business like Free IT Athens and KP Surplus to be reused or repurposed.

Thaxton said although they took Styrofoam last year, they will not this year because of difficulties finding organizations or companies to take it.

Participants in the drive will receive a cold drink for their trouble.

“We can’t serve alcohol like a happy hour but what we do is partner with Coke. Coke donates Coke products so when you come you get a Coke product, drop off your materials and you leave,” Janssen said.