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Student Launches District-wide Phone Recycling Program

Bennett Heyn with recycling bin A Sycamore High School senior has started a project that will benefit the local environment and a critically endangered species.

Bennett Heyn has created a district-wide cell phone recycling campaign. Students and staff can now place their old phones in the bin located at seven schools and District Office. His goal is to collect 2,000 phones across the district by the end of April.

Heyn was inspired to launch this project after learning about the endangered Western Lowland Gorillas through the Cincinnati Zoo. Cell phones contain an ore called Coltan, which is mined in the gorilla’s diminishing African habitat. By recycling unusable phones, the hope is to reduce the demand for Coltan.

Cell phones also contain lead, mercury, and arsenic, all considered hazardous waste if sent to landfills where they can leach into the soil and groundwater.

“I hope this project will make people feel like they can make a difference in their environment and feel good about doing so. Even if it as simple as recycling an old phone,” said Heyn.

Heyn has entered the campaign into the Cincinnati Zoo’s Go Bananas Challenge, which awards $4,000 to the winner. If Sycamore collects the most phones, Heyn plans to donate the winnings to the district to use for increasing awareness of environmental issues.

Abigail Hausfeld