Greenspace: Consumer Electronics Association aims to aid students

Ask any tween or teen, and they'll tell you the best gift is something that plugs in and charges.

Gaming systems, smartphones, tablet computers and TVs are the must-have items for kids. Of course, this is nothing new, so if kids are getting new electronics, it means it's time to get rid of the old ones.

And that's where the Consumer Electronics Association comes in. The organization, along with Youth Minds Inspired, has developed educational materials for tweens and teens designed to teach them how to recycle electronics responsibly.

"More students today own electronics devices than ever before and at younger ages," said Walter Alcorn, vice president of environmental affairs for CEA. "So a priority for the consumer electronic industry has been making e-cycling a regular part of our schools' curriculum."

That, he said, means teaching those students how to live green and recycle their favorite devices. This means making sure students have the information they need to reduce waste and work toward sustainability.


And part of CEA's efforts have meant realizing that the changing demographics in this country require a Spanish-language option for educational materials. Alcorn said CEA expects to see a doubling of the Hispanic population in the United States by 2060.

"In creating bilingual lessons, we are ensuring that we reach as many students as possible to encourage them to take a leading role in e-cycling," Alcorn said.

The classroom materials that CEA has helped develop include teaching more than just the importance of recycling old devices. Students will also learn about the rare materials often found in recycled electronics and how e-cycling can help promote the planet's sustainability.

Alcorn notes that recycled electronics are a great source of precious metals such as gold, silver, platinum, copper and tin. Those metals can then be used to create newer electronic devices or in a variety of other consumer goods, helping to keep the cost of those goods down.

But just as important, Alcorn said, students will learn how recycling electronics can reduce energy consumption.

"We want to teach the value of consuming less energy at a younger age so they can start to think about their role in creating a sustainable future," Alcorn said. In addition to metals, recycled electronics can be a source of plastics and glass, and the process reduces air and water pollution.

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