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- E-Waste Handling on Campus
E-Waste Handling on Campus
Posted by Kejsi Ago on October 5, 2021
Below is a response to the UIUC Science Policy RSO's request for more information on how UIUC manages e-waste.
Hello Grant. Your email inquiry was forwarded to me, since I was involved in ISTC’s past projects related to sustainable electronics and electronic waste, as part of my role working on zero waste issues in the ISTC Technical Assistance Program. From my experience on those projects, I understand that unwanted or non-functioning electronics enter in the University’s surplus property system (commonly referred to as “Surplus,” and part of the overall university property accounting system), so they may be redistributed on campus (if they’re still functional). Note that any functioning computer is required to be “scrubbed” of data before transfer for possible redistribution. Anything not redistributed within the University goes to the State of Illinois’s Central Management Services (CMS) department, where the items might be redistributed to other state agencies or to the public via an auction system called iBid. There used to be a program in place called “Computers for Schools” through which functioning electronics were available to schools at no or minimal cost for reuse within IL schools, but to my knowledge, that program ended several years ago and I’m not sure if it has ever been revived.
At any rate, after items have gone through this process for potential redistribution, the State of IL contracts with an electronics recycler to responsibly manage the non-functional and remaining functional devices.
I checked the iCAP portal, and it seems as if this all is still the general procedure, though some of the information on that iCAP page is old and potentially out of date (e.g. the reference to the “Computers for Schools” program—see https://icap.sustainability.illinois.edu/project/address-electronic-waste-e-waste. I also checked the UI Office of Business and Financial Services (OBFS) website regarding disposal of unneeded equipment to see if my understanding of electronics disposal procedures are still current—see https://www.obfs.uillinois.edu/bfpp/section-12-property-accounting/dispose-of-unneeded-equipment and https://www.obfs.uillinois.edu/bfpp/section-12-property-accounting/remove-data-from-electronic-devices, which instruct staff how to dispose of unwanted equipment. See https://www.obfs.uillinois.edu/bfpp/section-12-property-accounting/transfer-equipment-to-another-unit for an overview of how items might be transferred from one University unit to another through the property accounting system; a more direct explanation of the “Surplus” warehouse is available at https://www.obfs.uillinois.edu/equipment-management/surplus-warehouse-operations/.
At the time the ISTC electronics-related projects I worked on were active, the electronics recycler that the State of IL worked with was Secure Processors in Flora, IL. Checking the IL CMS website, it looks as if that is still true, but additionally New Star also recycles some of the UI system electronics—see https://www2.illinois.gov/cms/agency/recycling/Pages/E-Cycle.aspx. Secure Processors used to be R2 certified, though it doesn’t look as if they currently are—see https://sustainableelectronics.org/r2/ for more information on the R2 standard and https://sustainableelectronics.org/find-an-r2-certified-facility/ for the ability to search for certified electronics processors in IL and other regions. It’s possible that the CMS page referenced above, which I just found through a Google search, is out of date. There are contacts listed on that page who should be able to tell you if the information there is still accurate. You can also check out the Secure Processors website at https://www.secureprocessors.org/ and the New Star website at https://www.newstarservices.org/work/e-recycling/?doing_wp_cron=1633452094.7661879062652587890625 to learn more about their processes/practices. New Star appears to incorporate vocational training as part of their electronics recycling operation.
I have copied some individuals who are directly involved in campus sustainability and waste management, who might clarify whether the procedure I’ve outlined is still accurate, and can provide accurate information about related campus efforts to divert or reduce electronic waste and other forms of waste. Morgan White is Associate Director for Facilities & Services (F&S), Sustainability, and can provide insight into all campus initiatives and policies that pertain to sustainability. Meredith Moore is the Sustainability Programs Manager for the Institute of Sustainability, Energy and Environment (iSEE) and along with Morgan, can provide information about the Illinois Climate Action Plan, campus sustainability month activities, and the various campus Sustainability Working Advisory Teams (SWAT; https://sustainability.illinois.edu/campus-sustainability/icap/swateams/), including the Zero Waste SWAT. Sydney Trimble is a student member of that Zero Waste SWATeam, and she also works as a waste and recycling intern for F&S. See https://fs.illinois.edu/services/waste-management-and-recycling for more information on waste and recycling on campus; for future reference, you can direct questions on campus waste management issues to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m a bit out of the loop in terms of current researchers on campus who work on ewaste issues, since the ISTC Technical Assistance Program is not focused on sustainability for the UI campus, but instead assists clients through the state of IL and beyond. Meredith Moore can probably assist you in identifying campus researchers, or get you in touch with other contacts on campus who could assist you in this regard. I can tell you that my ISTC colleague, Jennifer Martin, works on issues related to reuse and recycling of renewable energy technology—see her contact info at https://directory.illinois.edu/detail?userIdemail@example.com&widgetId=47 if you’re interested in learning more about that.
I hope this helps! Best wishes,
Assistant Scientist, Sustainability
LEED Green Associate
Sustainability Excellence Professional (SEP; formerly ISSP-CSP)
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Prairie Research Institute
Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC)
217.333.8948 | jscrogum at illinois.edu
www.istc.illinois.edu | www. prairie.illinois.edu