Collecting and Recycling Electronic Waste to Benefit the Planet
Each spring, a parking lot at Hallmark headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri, is transformed into organized traffic lanes dotted with orange cones. Dozens of volunteers with ready hands jump into action as hundreds of employees drive through and drop off unwanted, broken or outdated electronic equipment. The company’s electronic waste (e-waste) event has also spurred similar collections at its facilities in Liberty, Missouri, and Lawrence and Leavenworth, Kansas.
In May 2018, employees turned in a record 215 mobile phones for recycling. The phones were wiped clean and donated to Hope House, a Kansas City organization that provides shelter and supportive services to survivors of domestic violence, so they can be used by those in need. In addition, during the past two years, audio equipment that has been collected was donated to the Audio-Reader Network, a reading and news information service in Kansas and western Missouri for blind and visually impaired individuals and those unable to read.
Since 2007, Hallmark’s risk manage- ment group has sponsored the e-waste collection event for employees, helping to recycle more than 486,000 pounds of e-waste. “It’s critical for our planet that we dispose of unwanted e-waste in a responsible manner,” said Sharon Davis, safety analyst – risk management, Hallmark. “Anything we can do to reduce our impact on the world environment, even if it’s just a drop in the bucket, is a start.”
For Hallmark’s efforts, Davis said her team works with vendor EPC, Inc. to recycle company and employee e-waste domestically. EPC works with certified recyclers to ensure that all processes are performed in an ethical, legal and environmentally safe manner.
Many electronic parts can be recovered for reuse or recycling, such as components made of gold, silver and copper. Improper disposal of e-waste that ends up in landfills or incinerators has a negative impact on air, water and soil quality.
Through a combination of responsible recycling and purposeful donations, the annual event reduces the amount of e-waste entering landfills or being incinerated, and it benefits people in the community.
“E-waste is one of the many types of waste that Hallmark recycles and tracks for our corporate sustainability goals,” said Michelle Toelkes, corporate risk control manager, Hallmark. “It is our responsibility as good corporate citizens to safely dispose of e-waste materials, and by engaging employees in these events we can get more people thinking about this issue.”