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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Various Businesses, Salem, Oregon, USA

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Various Businesses, Salem, Oregon, USA
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Registered: August 2007
Posts: 1
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I work for a company in the copy machine business. We service tens of thousands of copy and fax machines in the state of Oregon, and every one of those uses a toner cartridge of some kind. The machines with heavy copy and fax usage may go through a toner cartridge every six weeks. Needless to say, our customers go through a lot of these and fast. The toner cartridges for our brands are big, bulky and made out of several different types of plastic.

Working this job really opened my eyes to just how many of these are going directly into landfills. As a very avid recycler myself, it hurt me to think about all that waste. Unfortunately, our company does not accept the empty cartridges back for recycle or for refilling, and I cannot direct our customers to rival businesses who do accept used cartridges to refill and sell. That leaves it up to the customers to recycle their own cartridges by their own means. Sadly, many people do not think twice about throwing things away, so I decided to educate our customers about what they can do with their empty toner cartridges, besides putting them into their garbage can.

I started by contacting the recycling department in each county that we service in the state, and verified that these cartridges are on the county's accepted recyclables list. Fortunately, they are. Now I can inform our customers they simply need to shake out the excess toner from their cartridge and they can be set out with their regular plastic recycling for curbside pickup. But I needed to get the word out faster, and I couldn't use company time to call our customers with the good news. Besides, with all those customers, it would take me months to call them all.

I am currently going to college for a degree in graphic design, so I decided to design a flyer with information about recycling. It states in an easy to read format how to recycle our toner cartridges. It also states who to contact, and where to take them, in the event their garbage service provider does not accept them for recycling. I have included this flyer with every invoice and letter we mail out to our customers. I print each flyer three to a page, on a very light-weight recycled paper, to create as little waste as possible.

I have seen a very positive response from my recycle flyers over the past few months. Many of our customers have become more interested in recycling, and often call to ask me for clarification on what is and what isn't recyclable. They even call me when their garbage service providers have refused to pick up their cartridges, to get the address of local recycling depots where they can be taken to be recycled. That means our customers are now going out of their way to recycle!

I took it upon myself to conduct this research, create this flyer and complete this recycling project on my own time. I will continue to work on this project as long as I can, because helping others recycle is something I've been doing for years. I continue to collect about four pounds of plastic from around the office each week, mostly to-go coffee cups, lids, fast-food containers and various other packaging, and bring it home to recycle with my own weekly recycling. It has always been my belief that leading by example is the best way to teach. I feel I have really made a contribution, by educating others about recycling. Hopefully, in turn, these people will educate others themselves, and together we can reduce the millions and millions of cartridges that end up in landfills each year.
Date: August 27, 2007 Views: 5574 File size: 19.4kb, 54.4kb : 576 x 288
Hours Volunteered: 12
Volunteers: 1
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 23
Trash Removed/Recycled from Environment (kg): 12
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