By Beth Dodd:
Starting on February 5th, your old, unwanted gadgets can support a noble cause. If you donate them to Woodland Park Panther Recycling, a new electronics recycling depot at Woodland Park Middle School, your donation will support the special education students at the high school, benefit the community, and help to protect the environment.
Woodland Park Panther Recycling will be run by the SPED kids, who will be strengthening their job skills in preparation for graduation. They will get to disassemble the electronics as well as learn things like customer service, handling money, shipping, and tracking inventory.
Another student group, the WPHS S.O.S. Club (Save Our Society), has been instrumental in providing volunteer time and doing community outreach and education regarding electronics waste. They have passed this event on to Woodland Park Panther Recyclers now that the new business has been created to benefit the SPED students.
“I know we’re going in the right direction and we’re excited about it,” said Elizabeth Connell of S.W.A.P., the School to Work Alliance Program, and the Woodland Park Panther Recycling project developer. “The people in this community want to do the right thing.”
Blue Star Recyclers of Colorado Springs is a partner in the new recycling program. They are the sponsors of VERN, or the Vocational Electronics Recycling Network, which uses the ethical recycling of electronics as a way to create jobs for people with disabilities by forming partnerships between public and private entities. Blue Star also provides the students with training and forwards the electronic components to the recycling companies.
A VERN program is already underway in Cañon City. Tiger Print Recycling at Cañon City High School is a success in its second year and plans to expand its services. They are networking with Panther Recycling to help them get off to a good start.
The Woodland Park Panther Recycling students will be collecting devices like televisions, computer monitors, cell phones, smart phones, tablets, computer towers, laptops, microwaves, copiers, gaming consoles, DVD and MP3 players, and stereos. These items often contain toxic elements like lead, mercury, cadmium, beryllium, and arsenic. If they get dumped in a landfill, they pose a threat to clean water and healthy soils. They also contain valuable metals like copper and aluminum that can be re-used.
That is why a new Colorado law will require residents to recycle their electronic waste starting on July 1, 2013. Counties are being asked to find a way to offer at least two recycling events per year, so having this service in Woodland Park will be a boon for Teller County residents. After the new law goes into effect, non-compliant citizens could be fined for improper disposal of their gadgets.
Woodland Park Panther Recycling will charge thirty cents per pound to recycle your computer monitors, TVs, and other home and car electronics. Computer towers and laptops will be free. Panther recycling can also ensure that your old computer hard drive, a prime target for identity thieves, is destroyed for an additional five dollar fee. They do not accept air conditioners or refrigerators.
A kick-off event for Woodland Park Panther Recycling that was held on January 19th was a big success, and another community wide recycling drive will be held on April 13th from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Woodland Park Middle School. Discounted prices will be offered for recycling on that day, so clean out your closets and donate your unused devices.
The recycling depot for Woodland Park Panther Recycling is located at the Woodland Park Middle School at the west end of the building by the loading dock and bicycle racks. They will be open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 8:00 to 10:00 a.m. and will follow Woodland Park School District holidays, delays, and closures. More information is available on their web page at www.wpsdk12.org/wppr.