Last July I posted an article called “All You Need to Know About Finding an Electronic Recycler.” For this article I researched recyclers, databases, magazines, and manufacturers to find the most comprehensive and responsible electronic collection agencies. I then whittled those down and only suggested a few that I thought gave an overall sense of the type of resources available. It wasn’t until last week that I found an article that did exactly this… only better! The article is by NCER (National Center for Electronics Recycling.) It was intended for the State of West Virginia, so some of the suggestions are rather specific for West Virginia but others, like the manufacturing programs, are nationally run. Here is what NCER says about specific manufacturer collection programs: Read the rest of this entry »
“Energy efficiency” has been a popular phrase for several years in industries and households. The main motivation behind energy efficiency has been to lessen the environmental impact of our energy needs. With the use of computers, automobiles, televisions, heating and cooling systems within our buildings, and many other everyday operations, people have been increasing their need for energy. In order to get the electricity we need to power most of our electronic gadgets and to provide us with comfortable living conditions, fossil fuels are extracted, processed, and finally used. All three main processes not only deplete the earth of its natural materials, but they also pollute our environment. In current economic times, however, there is another reason we should become more efficient with our energy – we can save money. Read the rest of this entry »
The Sustainable Electronics Initiative (SEI), hosted by the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC), is pleased to announce the availability of its online “Ask an Expert” service for the submission of questions related to electronics and their environmental impacts.
Questions related to electronic waste, or “e-waste” issues, sustainable electronics design, improving electronics manufacturing processes and related topics can be submitted via an online form available at http://www.sustainelectronics.illinois.edu/services/askexpert.cfm. SEI staff members will provide one hour of free Internet and/or literature searching related to your sustainable electronics question. Also provided is input from ISTC staff scientists and/or referrals to external contacts for further information on technical questions. Responses can be expected within a week (usually within 1-2 business days). Citizens, organizations, government agencies, businesses, non-profit groups, and academic institutions are all invited to use this free service.
The responses obtained from the Ask an Expert service are meant for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as endorsements by SEI, ISTC or any affiliated organization. Responses are also meant to be starting points for inquirers rather than definitive answers, advice or prescriptions for action. Inquirers must draw their own conclusions based upon the information provided.
In the near future, questions and answers received via this service will be archived and searchable on the SEI web site, www.sustainelectronics.illinois.edu. An extensive collection of resources is also under development for the web site, and archived Ask an Expert questions and answers will be integrated into relevant resource collections.
According to the U.S. EPA, Americans own nearly three billion electronic products and continually purchase new ones to replace those deemed “obsolete,” even though about two-thirds of the devices are still in working order. As designers, manufacturers and the general public are becoming more aware and concerned about this issue, SEI’s Ask an Expert service will be one way to address concerns and assist in more sustainable practices.
SEI is a consortium dedicated to the development and implementation of a more sustainable system for designing, producing, remanufacturing, and recycling electronic devices. Members of the consortium include academia, non-profit organizations, government agencies, manufacturers, designers, refurbishers, and recyclers. Specific elements of the SEI include programs for research, education, data management, and technical assistance. SEI conducts collaborative research; facilitates networking and information exchange among participants; promotes technology diffusion via demonstration projects; and provides forums for the discussion of policy and legislation.
For more information on SEI, visit www.sustainelectronics.illinois.edu or contact Dr. Tim Lindsey, Associate Director of ISTC, at 217-333-8955 . For more information on the Ask an Expert service contact Laura Barnes, ISTC librarian at 217-333-8957.
ISTC is a unit of the Institute of Natural Resource Sustainability at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
The content of this blog now has a designer’s view of e-waste, a recycler perspective, a recent engineering graduate’s thoughts, and the perspective of a current college student about e-waste and electronics sustainability. But what about the everyday consumer? Without the consumer’s contribution or consideration of e-waste, nothing could be accomplished.
This article is one consumer’s take on electronic waste. The author’s name is Casey Brazeal; he is a long time blogger (northandclark) but a first time e-waste commenter. Casey offers a unique consumer perspective from an environmentally conscience standpoint.
It may not always be easy to do but I try to see the value in all electronics: a broken air conditioner, a dead cell phone, an 8-track tape player…
They have all been manufactured and so they have all gone through many steps to get to where they are today and definitely not without some cost to the environment. Is the presence of that guilt in knowing that I contributed to this problem enough to have me care about the best solutions? Why is it so hard to appreciate yesterday’s electronics? This is what I have come up with: the pace of innovation makes so much of what we have seem worthless so fast. The CD player that was my greatest treasure seven years ago is now growing dusty in the corner of my room; taking up space, cluttering my room.
Nontheless, even with the apparent state of uselessness, I still cannot forget the value of these electronics. In the making of any electronic product miles were traveled, metal was shaped, and great rocks were dug out of the ground. All this was done to make these things that now sit seemingly indefinitely in my attic. If we do not think about how we dispose of these valuable yet outdated electronic materials they will end up causing even more damage. It is our responsibility to consider how we can put old electronics to good use through responsible disposal, repair, or donation.
I try to remember that if my electronic waste goes to someone who can recycle the parts here in the U.S. I am helping provide Americans with jobs. If I repair my old equipment I am preventing the environmental impact associated with creating new electronics. If I donate my used electronics to someone who will use it, I am helping the less fortunate in my own community.
We have to take care of our junk.