The Student News Site of University of Kentucky

Kentucky Kernel

The Student News Site of University of Kentucky

Kentucky Kernel

The Student News Site of University of Kentucky

Kentucky Kernel

Follow us on Instagram

3rd annual Shred Your Cellphone event educates students on recycling technology

Lilly Keith
Shredded cell phones rest in a bin in the Mining and Mineral Resources Building after the Shred Your Cellphone event on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023, at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Lilly Keith | Staff

The Engineering Living and Learning Program (ELLP) brought together students from multiple majors for “Shred Your Cell Phone” on Wednesday, Sept. 27. 

Held at the Mining and Mineral Resources Building, the event served as an introduction to technological recycling and its impact on the world, according to Jack Groppo, the creator of the event.

Groppo is a professor at UK who teaches courses on recycling and conflict materials, specializing in mining engineering. 

“We started this as a service project … I thought, ‘Why don’t we do an electronic recycling program for the campus because people don’t know what to do with their stuff,’” Groppo said. “I’ve incorporated it into my classes so in my mineral processing class we crush rocks, shred computers, and we separate minerals from circuit boards … so we teach e-waste.”

Students were able to learn about the metals and components inside computers, hard drives and cell phones through the demonstration of shredding them in the mining department’s e-waste shredder. Students were invited to bring their old cell phones or other electronics to shred. 

“I didn’t realize how much was plastic in the battery until I saw it come through the machine … it’s kinda like chemical engineering where you use separation tactics,” Anthony France, a sophomore chemical engineering major, said. 

By attending this event, France was able to see the overlap between engineering degrees. 

“Really when you get an engineering degree, you’re learning how to think and apply different concepts and solve all kinds of problems,” France said. “You’re not limited to your discipline.” 

The event provided Groppo the opportunity to raise awareness of the positive aspects of mining.“For my entire career, we’ve demonized mining … Mining is at the very beginning of the supply chain, and people now realize ‘Oh, you’re right, we don’t have any of these materials,’ and that’s why we can’t do this domestically, so it’s increasing awareness about mining,” Groppo said. “If people would give it a second look as a career option, that’s wonderful … but if it would make you think about what you throw in the garbage pail, then it serves its purpose.” 

Junior mining and engineering major Kevin Sanders said that this event is important to educate young students on the benefits of mining metals from technology.

“People typically think of mining as something that’s environmentally harmful, but here we’re using mining principles to actually make a positive environmental impact,” Sanders said. “By recycling and processing computers, we actually have to mine less out of the ground and keep things from going to the landfills.”

Groppo said that the ELLP encourages students in all kinds of engineering classes to come to future events like this. 

“Freshmen especially should come to see the mining department, but I think especially a lot of adjacent majors,” France said. “It’s a real-world application of a lot of things we learn.”

Though students cannot drop off old technology to the mining department, Groppo said it’s encouraged that students make an effort to recycle their old technology. Lexington has its own electronics recycling center located at 1306 Versailles Rd., open from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. 

“We want to keep this stuff out of the landfills, ’cause once it goes in the landfill, it’s gone forever,” Groppo said. 

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Kentucky Kernel Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *