Pontiac, Ill. -- An incredibly diligent and environmentally philanthropic effort saw local business Advanced Technology Recycling far exceed its goal of recycling 1 million pounds of electronic waste during the weeklong timeframe of 6 p.m. April 19 to 6 p.m. April 25.
In doing so, they are now the Guinness world record holders of most pounds of recycled materials in that exact stretch, shattering the old record by more than 100,000 pounds. The effort, billed as the One Million Pound Challenge, incidentally coincided with Earth Day, an annual event about environmental protection celebrated globally.
The company’s five operational sites across the country coordinated with local businesses and communities not only for the attempt to break the record, but to promote Earth Day and an effort to save the environment, according to ATR Business Development Manager Ray Magee.
“The big thing about this and getting the word out about the challenge … it’s about environmental awareness,” he said ahead of the final whistle blow on Saturday. “We’re letting people know these electronics in our landfill, our ditches, everywhere are bad. They can be leaked into our water, damage our health, that sort of thing.
“We’ve done the Million Pound Challenge the last couple of years, and it’s about awareness and educating consumers, residents, and businesses.”
Philip Robertson, an official Guinness adjudicator, was on site to award ATR with a plaque commemorating the event should the company meet the record-supplanting criteria. He, too, was impressed with the effort.
“Every Guinness World Record is different,” Robertson said. “But some have impacts on the environment, on health, on communities, on charities. They affect things in different ways. It’s great to see efforts like this tie into Earth Day.”
Before Robertson could tally up the numbers and crunch the data, he could only comment from reports sent by independent witnesses across ATR’s different sites that they were close, and that everything looked “right on track.”
Before the 6 p.m. deadline, Magee was also very optimistic that ATR had eclipsed 1 million pounds as well as the standing record. His certainty was only dampened by the wet, dreary weather in the area, which threatened lower numbers of people turning out to drop off e-waste.
After 6 o’clock, ATR management and other staff filed into a meeting room with Robertson as the latter went through the collation of data. At around 6:30, Robertson made a solemn announcement.
“I have bad news,” he began, before adding, “The weather shows no signs of improvement.”
His joke was quickly followed by a glowing review of the bookkeeping and his declaration that ATR was now an official part of the Guinness World Records, having recycled 1,180,442 pounds in a week — well over the previous mark of 1,045,000 pounds in the same span.
Robertson gave the plaque to a glowing Barb Ehresman, chairman and CEO of ATR. Her husband Ken, the company’s COO and president, was thrilled with achieving the record, but more pleased with the community’s support of the effort.
“It’s important to break the record, but what means the most to us is being able to recycle a million pounds in a week,” he said. “Keeping (e-waste) out of landfills, and making sure that we’re contributing and doing our part. This was all of the facilities and communities we serve taking part, and we’re just happy to be able to keep it out of landfills.”
Not one to rest on his laurels, Ehresman predicts even bigger things for the next edition of the One Million Pound Challenge.
“Maybe two million, three million? Sure. Easy,” he said with a smile. But given ATR’s passion to inspire its communities to do more to save the environment, and the communities’ reciprocal support for the challenge, such lofty numbers may not even be out of the realm of possibility.