Americans currently own nearly 3 billion electronic products and as new products are purchased, obsolete products are stored or discarded at alarming rates. About two-thirds of the electronic devices removed from service were still in working order. However, only about 15% of this material is recycled while the vast majority is disposed in landfills. The existing system for managing E-waste is generally not sustainable because mechanisms for collecting, sorting, reuse, refurbishing, repairing, and remanufacturing are not well developed and/or implemented. Problems associated with market issues, obsolescence issues, feedstock collection, feedstock management, and product-design need to be addressed. Given the complexity, uncertainty and diversity of the E-waste problem, a rigorous multidisciplinary academic approach is necessary to develop and implement systems that effectively utilize and recycle these products.
The Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC), located at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), is spearheading 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 this consortium, hereafter referred to as the Sustainable Electronics Initiative (SEI), include programs for research, education, data management and technical assistance. SEI will conduct collaborative research, facilitate networking and information exchange among participants, promote technology diffusion via demonstration projects, and provide forums for the discussion of policy and legislation.
The purpose of this blog will be to share news and resources related to e-waste, its management and impacts; recycling, refurbishing and creative reuse; sustainable electronic product design; product stewardship; policy; and SEI updates.