Indiana University – Bloomington, MPA & MSES
Riethmiller/PTR Scholar 2009
Electronic Waste Issues and Solutions
Project Description (while EREF Scholar):
With the technology boom, electronic waste (e-waste) is generated every day by city residents and requires proper disposal to prevent groundwater and soil contamination. However, while local governments often offer drop off sites for residents, the processing of this waste is expensive and residents typically incur a fee to recycle. This cost often provides disincentives for residents to recycle their e-waste and this waste either is improperly disposed, land filled or accumulates in residential homes. The ability to properly process e-waste and avoid excess contamination over time is a major public policy problem for local governments, specifically in regard to availability and knowledge of electronic recycling programs, cost issues, and public trust of the validity of the program. As a result, Laura’s project objectives are to examine the feasibility of small e-waste curbside collection programs, research how greater public awareness will improve e-waste recycling and analyze how collaboration with producers of electronic goods will provide more opportunities and lower costs for recycling these goods.
Currently, Laura is focused on orchestrating a community e-waste collection event that is scheduled for April 2010. Last year Laura also helped to organize this event and a survey was administered to participants to assess their knowledge of e-waste issues and their recycling tendencies. Laura is working on a statistical analysis of this data so that the project team may better target their efforts for the 2010 event. Furthermore, the project team is partnering with Apple Inc. and Laura intends to investigate possible areas of collaboration with local governments to offer low cost e-waste collection. Lastly, Laura plans to examine the feasibility for small e-waste collection on campus and in the community through discussions with campus departments, residence halls, and the Monroe County Solid Waste District.
Laura is currently in her third year of graduate studies at the School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA) at Indiana University in Bloomington. She first became fascinated by solid waste issues while interning for the Region 10 Environmental Protection Agency office in Seattle where she organized the first beverage container recovery stakeholder meeting and also the first contamination in co-mingled recycling systems stakeholder meeting. Since then she has continued to work on solid waste issues with the Office of Sustainability at Indiana University as the E-Waste Solutions intern and also in Santiago, Chile where she interned for RECYCLA, a Chilean social entrepreneurship that recycles electronic waste.
Laura grew up in Seattle, WA and loves the outdoors! As a result of her childhood in the Northwest she is very fond of coffee, hiking/backpacking, and rain. For her undergraduate work, Laura studied at the University of Washington and majored in Environmental Studies, International Studies, and minored in Quantitative Science. In her spare time, Laura loves salsa dancing, swimming, reading, meeting new people, and traveling.