Project raises recycling awareness through different challenges

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The cell phone recycling bins are located at the Union, RPAC and Drackett Tower. Credit: Casey Cascaldo | Photo Editor

A new student-run cell phone recycling campaign on campus can help save the ecosystem, as well as the gorillas.

Two students at Ohio State have set up recycling boxes for cell phones across campus that will be sent to the Cincinnati Zoo, which hosts a contest called “Go Bananas.”

Bennett Heyn, a first-year in management information systems, and Matthew Ibla, a first-year in finance, began this recycling campaign at their high school in Cincinnati and are continuing their work on campus.

The Go Bananas project challenges groups across the country to find creative ways to foster cell phone recycling and offers prizes for the top groups. According to the zoo’s website, recycling cell phones directly helps save gorilla habitats by preserving the ore called coltan — which is mainly mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo in the middle of gorilla habitats.

The goal of Go Bananas is to see who can collect the most used phones by April. This student challenge offers $1,000 to the most creative project and $4,000 to the students who collect the most cell phones.

Heyn and Ibla brought this project to Ohio State in fall 2018 by contacting organizations such as Undergraduate Student Government and New Impacts, along with receiving help from Tom Reeves, director of sustainability.  

“I like Bennett’s project a lot because it was an idea by a student, being implemented by a student,” Reeves said.

Heyn and Ibla are looking to collect flip phones or any phones that people would throw away to later send to the Go Bananas project.

Last year, Heyn and Ibla recycled 200 phones and were the winners of the most creative campaign.

In addition to saving gorilla habitats, Heyn said the project also helps save the environment.

Heyn said when phones get thrown away instead of being recycled, they are sent to the landfills. The toxic materials in phones then leak into the groundwater, causing pollution. This is a problem the two want to prevent in the community as much as possible.

Three bins are in place already at the RPAC, Ohio Union and Drackett Tower. Heyn is looking to implement more next semester as well as potentially start a club.

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