By Wade Coggeshall
Hendricks County Flyer
INDIANAPOLIS — While blocked-off streets for a marathon downtown may have kept some from bringing recyclables Saturday morning to the Indianapolis Zoo, officials still expected plenty of donations over the course of the weekend.
The zoo hosted its semi-annual Power Recycling Weekend Saturday and Sunday, presented by Ingram Micro. It’s a program they’ve offered every spring and fall for several years now.
“It’s something that goes along with our conservation mission,” said Carla Knapp, a public relations specialist for the zoo. “Whenever you have something like that in your mission, you want to lead by example. We try to do different things to be good environmental stewards. This is just one aspect of that.”
If the resulting numbers from the recycling program are any indication, it’s been a success. In April the zoo and its partners collected 22,000 pounds of electronics, 2,800 pounds of office paper, and 550 pounds of clothing. Knapp noted that’s much more than the weight of the zoo’s largest animal — a 46-year-old African elephant named Sophi who tips the scales at more than 10,000 pounds.
“We love that more and more people are coming each year,” she said. “The number of items being recycled is increasing too, which is a wonderful thing. That means those items are staying out of landfills.”
Indeed, in 2009 alone more than 2.5 million tons of electronic products were estimated as being disposed of improperly. Many of these devices contain mercury and lead, byproducts that can leach into the ground and contaminate water and soil if they end up in landfills.
While cell phones contain many precious metals that can make you money if recycled, the Environmental Protection Agency reported only 8 percent of unused mobile devices had been recycled as of ’09.
“We hope people continue to take advantage of opportunities like this,” Knapp said of the recycling weekend. “It’s a free service. The only things with a fee are TVs and computer monitors.”
Recycle Force took care of electronic items. Everything is accepted except large appliances like refrigerators and washers and dryers. Shred Monkey offered document shredding and Goodwill of Central Indiana collected new and gently-used clothes, household items, furniture, books, and toys.
Knapp said they try to make the recycling program as easy for donors as possible.
“We usually don’t have huge vehicle backups, so the volunteers we do have are able to efficiently get people in and out,” she said. “Being in April and November, it is an event that’s sometimes plagued with bad weather. But guests don’t even have to get out of their car. We take care of everything.”
As well, the zoo also offered $2 discount coupons on admission to donors.
“This has been a growing mission for us,” said Knapp, adding the zoo also hosted a recycling event around the Super Bowl that was successful. “We really appreciate the community’s support and our sponsors. We like to offer people small ways that they can go green. It helps the environment. It helps everybody.”