Sustainable Electronics Initiative

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The Sustainable Electronics Initiative (SEI) at the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) is dedicated to the development and implementation of a more sustainable system for designing, producing, using, and managing electronic devices.

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SDEP Presentation on the Israel-Palestine E-waste Commodity Chain, 8/28/15

Social Dimensions of Environmental Policy (SDEP), a joint initiative of the Beckman Institute, the Department of Geography, and the School of Earth, Society, and Environment at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has announced its events for fall 2015. The first presentation of the semester will be ‘The Israel-Palestine E-waste Commodity Chain: Findings and Reflections,’ by Yaakov Garb of Ben Gurion University. The presentation will take place on Friday, August 28 at 3 PM in Room 1092 Lincoln Hall at 702 S. Wright St. in Champaign.

Abstract: Over the last several years, Yaakov Garb has worked with a small team to explore and document the informal Palestinian-Israeli entrepreneurial commodity chain through which most Israeli electronic waste has been informally transferred to a cluster of Palestinian villages and dismantled, with valuable materials (primarily copper and motherboards) shipped via Israel to destinations abroad, and the remainder crudely burned and dumped in the rural landscape. Drawing on over a hundred interviews with stakeholders in this commodity chain, extensive field observation, as well as remote sensing imagery and traffic counts, the team has constructed a portrait of this value chain (actors, prices, volumes, and dynamics) and documented its severe environmental and human health consequences. They have also worked with the local Palestinian community to develop a business model, transition strategy, and bargaining power vis-à-vis the Israeli system to enable a shift to cleaner operation while preserving livelihoods.

This talk will describe this e-waste commodity chain, its geopolitical contexts, and the results of the research and advocacy efforts of Garb’s team. It will reflect on the broader implications of this case study for thinking about informal commodity chains, their ability to move materials and rework landscapes at large scales, and what we know about them.

About the presenter: Yaakov Garb is Lecturer at Ben Gurion University and an Adjunct Assistant Professor of International Studies at the Watson Institute, Brown University. He draws on environmental studies and science and technology studies (STS) in his research, teaching, and consulting on environmental and urban issues. Dr. Garb specializes in projects demanding interdisciplinary perspectives, a combination of qualitative and quantitative methodologies, and a merging of analysis with advocacy for change.

For more information on future SDEP events, see http://illinois.edu/calendar/list/3575.

Illini Gadget Garage Hours Set, Courses Begin

Illini Gadget Garage project team

Photo by Joyce Seay-Knoblauch. Pictured (left to right): William Bullock, professor of industrial design, Joy Scrogum, coordinator of the Sustainable Electronics Initiative, and Martin Wolske, research scientist and adjunct faculty member in library and information science.

In case you missed it, check out the UI News Bureau coverage of the Illini Gadget Garage project. Thanks to Jodi Heckel for helping spread the word!

As noted in this article, the Gadget Garage will open to the general campus community for repair assistance on Monday, September 14. Fall hours will be Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays from 2 to 6 p.m.

Professors Martin Wolske and William Bullock are also teaching courses associated with the Gadget Garage, with classes beginning this week. Professor Bullock’s class is a multidisciplinary effort with the following course objectives:

  • Collaborate with peers from business, design & technology in planning and startup
  • Experience project management, leadership and team building
  • Create a business and marketing plan to insure success going forward
  • Plan and implement new branding, advertising and wayfinding strategies
  • Participation in the iFixit Technical Writing Project (a unique portfolio piece)
  • Knowledge to create more sustainable designs and extend product life cycles

Professor Bullock is particularly interested in having students with interests in marketing and engineering participate alongside their peers from industrial design. A few seats are still available; interested students should see the course flyer and contact Professor Bullock directly with questions. Professor Wolske’s Introduction to Network Systems class will be meeting in the Gadget Garage space, and students will have opportunities to work on service learning projects associated with this project for the course.

See the Illini Gadget Garage page on the Sustainable Electronics Initiative web site for more information on the courses and the project itself, including a map of its location. General questions can be addressed to Joy Scrogum.

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