Detroit Zoo offering free admission in exchange for recycling electronic waste

The Detroit Zoo is offering free admission to people who bring old and used electronics for recycling in November.

On Nov. 15 and 16, people can bring old cell phones, stereos, laptops, and printers to the Detroit Zoological Society's Water Tower parking lot and receive a voucher for a free ticket to visit the zoo. The tickets will be valid Monday through Thursday at any time until the end of 2021.

Electronic waste may not be the most common material to enter landfills, but it can be among the most harmful to the environment. Toxic substances from e-waste have damaging effects on groundwater if it leaches from a landfill.

Each driver that brings e-waste will be eligible for one voucher. If a driver coordinates a drop-off with multiple households and brings a "full vehicle" of items that can be recycled, they'll get two vouchers.

Printers, non-tube TVs, computers, wire, DVD and VHS players, batteries, radios, and phones can all be recycled.

"Technology offers opportunities for a higher quality of life, but many practices to extract materials, manufacture the products and dispose of them at the end of life are devastating habitats," said Andy McDowell, DZS manager of sustainability. "By recycling electronic waste, community members can make a meaningful impact toward reducing these destructive effects."

The zoo is interested in a specific mineral that gets used in a lot of electronics: coltan. 

Demand for coltan is high and a lot of the world's supply is mined in gorilla habitats. But when the material is recycled, it reduces the amount of mining in those areas.

The zoo asks people to delete all personal information from electronics before recycling the waste.