Defeat the electric monster by hosting an E-Waste Drive!

E-Waste is an electronic device that reaches the end of its useful life. Use this toolkit to organize an E-Waste Drive to reduce the amount of electronics entering our landfills. Not only will this reduce the amount of toxins in the environment, these items can also be recycled!

Toolkit Details

NGSS

This toolkit address the following Science and Engineering Practices (SEPs) within the Performance Expectations of NGSS for Grades: K-2 and 3-5

  • Asking Questions and Defining a Problem
  • Planning and Carrying out Investigations
  • Analyzing and Interpreting Data
  • Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking
  • Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions
  • Obtaining Evaluating, and Communicating Information

Why It’s Important

Unlike a majority of normal waste, electronic waste (E-Waste)–computers, televisions, tablets, phones, etc.–is composed of chemical toxins that could be harmful to the environment if they are not processed correctly. Furthermore, as humans continue to rely on technology, E-Waste is likely to grow at a higher magnitude.

What You Will Accomplish

Students will organize an event that will allow individuals to dispose of their E-Waste for safe processing.

Teacher Project Plan Step-by-Step

Step 1: Determine Participants

Use our E-Waste Drive Sign-Up Sheet

  • Working with a small group of students? Choose 1 day to host your E-Waste Drive.
  • Working with a larger team? Split up into groups and have each team conduct an E-Waste Drive monthly.
  • Is your whole school involved? Split up by classroom or grade level and have each team conduct an E-Waste Drive weekly.

Step 2: Set Learning Objectives

Analysis

  • Students will analyze their campus for an optimal E-Waste Drive location.
    • Examples
      • Student drop-off locations
      • Your school’s front door/gate
      • Your school’s parking lot

Project Management

  • Students will produce and potentially schedule multiple events.
  • Students will practice communication and leadership skills by delegating tasks to each other.
    • Example: 

Learn to communicate with organizations (see E-Waste Drive Partner Request  provided)

Evaluation and Assessment

  • Students will track and evaluate the impact of their project.
    • Examples
      • Report the impact of their work to the school/city/community

Step 3: Educate Students on the the Effects of E-Waste

The resources provided can be shown as a slideshow or printed out as individual worksheets for students to learn.

Education Materials: Why Should you Reduce Your Energy Consumption?

E-Waste Contains Harmful Chemicals

While normal waste has a major impact on the environment, E-Waste harms ecosystems due to its chemical composition. E-waste is a health and environmental hazard, containing toxic additives or hazardous substances such as mercury, which damages the human brain and/or coordination system. [1]

There is A LOT of E-Waste

In addition to the environmental impacts that E-Waste has through its chemical components, there is a significant amount of it generated. In fact, 53.6 million metric tonnes of E-Waste was produced in 2019 alone. That equates to the weight of 11.8 million elephants. [2]

Simple Habits Can Reduce Energy Consumption

With the rapid growth of technology use across the world, the magnitude of E-Waste is likely to grow. Some predict that E-Waste is projected to grow up to 74.7 million metric tonnes by 2030. That is roughly a 50% increase from 2019 statistics. [3]

Watch these two short videos to learn why it’s important to dispose E-Waste correctly!

Why E-Waste is a Social Justice Issue

E-Waste has quickly become an emerging issue with the development of technology across the world. Similar to regular waste, E-Waste is often transported to developing regions internationally or to disenfranchised communities domestically. However, E-Waste has a larger impact on local communities due to the toxic materials needed for their construction. Inadequate E-waste processing can lead to these chemicals entering local ecosystems and causing various health problems.

Step 4: Pre-Activity Reflection Questions

Reflection and Educator Observation Questions

Use the following questions to guide students and reflect on what they’ve learned. Provided questions can be accessed in slideshow or worksheet format.

Reflection Questions

  • Identify objects we use daily that could potentially turn into E-Waste.
  • What is the most common type of E-Waste?
  • Why do you think E-Waste is a growing problem around the world?
  • Why do you think E-Waste cannot be thrown away similarly to regular trash?

Educator Observation

  • What answers did you hear from the reflection questions that addressed the learning objectives?

Step 5: Take Action – E-Waste Drive Lesson Plan

Lead students through the “E-Waste Drive” activity with guided instructions. Check out “Pro Tips” with each step for useful help:

1. Assign Roles

2. Map it Out

Look at a map of your school or neighborhood. Make a list of areas that would be ideal locations for people to deliver their E-Waste.

3. Ask for Permission

Before you start your E-Waste Drive, ensure that you ask administrative staff for permission to host the event. Tell them your plan to implement your Campaign and educate them on why it’s important.

4. Get the Word Out

Let everyone know that you are hosting an E-Waste Drive! Educate your friends and family on what type of materials they can drop off and why it is important. Here are a few ways you can get the word out:

  • Post flyers around your school/community
  • Conduct a walking assembly (see E-Waste Walking Assembly Instructions)
  • Create a blurb for your school’s newsletter and/or website
  • Create or use an existing social media account to post details about your E-Waste Drive in addition to why proper disposal is important.

5. Connect with E-Waste Haulers

Before you begin your E-Waste Drive, it is important to prepare a proper method of disposal. Remember that E-Waste requires additional processing to mitigate chemical toxins entering the environment. Using resources online, research local E-Waste collection companies to support your campaign. If you need talking points, use our E-Waste Drive Partner Request to connect with a helping hand.

6. Prepare Your Materials

Gather your E-Waste collection materials and choose an accessible location where they can be stored. Materials can include:

  • Gloves
  • Trash bins
  • Boxes or large containers
  • Utility carts
  • Signs to direct people to the drop off location
  • Clipboards with printed E-Waste Drive Tracker sheets for each team
  • Writing utensil

7. Drive Up the E-Waste!

Now it’s time to get your E-Waste Drive started! To conduct a successful event, ensure that you place signs around car entrances directing them to the drop off location. Your drop off location should be prepared with receptacles to easily collect E-Waste. This can include boxes, bins, or utility carts for bulky items. At the end of your event, store your E-Waste in a proper location until it is collected by your selected E-Waste hauler.

You never know what strange and unexpected items will be delivered to the E-Waste Drive. Keep a “treasures” list and read it periodically. Being an electronics-buster has a fun side!

8. Track Your Impact

Each group should track the amount of E-Waste collected by using our E-Waste Drive Tracker. Collect the sheets at each event to track your impact.

9. Make a Schedule

If you decide to continue your E-Waste Drive efforts, set up a schedule for each group to conduct an event monthly, quarterly, or once a semester. 

  • Determine the start and end dates of your campaign. If it is ongoing, plan to check in from time to time to monitor your progress.
  • Use our E-Waste Drive Schedule worksheet to help keep your team organized.
  • Remember to keep your team safe!

Step 6: Post-Activity Reflection Questions

Student Reflection and Real World Application Questions

Student Reflection

Once your teams have completed their E-Waste collection event, use the questions below to have students reflect on their E-Waste Drive Campaign.

  • What were some small wins that happened during your project?
    • Examples: we collected retro electronics, met my lifelong friends, collected 10 boxes of E-Waste
  • What could you do to up your game next time?
  • What’s the coolest thing you found during your E-Waste Drive?
    • Examples: television, cassette player, Nintendo64 , left AirPod Which E-Waste items did you see the most of?

Real World Application

What will change in your life now that you have completed this project?

Step 7: Report Students’ Impact

Compile all the data that your teams gathered and complete the E-Waste Drive Wrap Up Form.

Provided Resources

Congrats on completing the E-Waste Drive Eco-Toolkit! 

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