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.

About SEI

Illini Gadget Garage Project Will Extend Useful Life of Student and Staff Owned Electronics

The Illinois Sustainable Technology Center and SEI are pleased to announce that a team from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign consisting of SEI coordinator Joy Scrogum (ISTC), William Bullock (Art + Design), Martin Wolske, and Jon Gant (both of the Graduate School of Library and Information Science) has recently received funding from the Student Sustainability Committee for a project entitled “Illini Gadget Garage: Education through Electronic Product Life Extension.” This seed funding will be used to launch a center where UI students and staff will bring their personal electronic devices for assistance with assessment and repair. The center will be called the Illini Gadget Garage. Using the same “collaborative repair” model employed at the campus bike shop and MakerSpace Urbana’s computer Help Desk, clients with devices in need of repair/troubleshooting will work together with Gadget Garage student staff and volunteers to perform the necessary device assessment and maintenance activities. Depending upon the situation, activities may range from guidance on how to make your computer/device run faster to actual repair and replacement of components.

Beyond the avoidance of waste by extending the useful life of products, desired outcomes for students, staff, and the community include:

  • Hands on experiences for UI students, not only in terms of performing repairs, but also in process documentation and fostering sustainable behavior on a larger scale through the iFixit Technical Writing Project; marketing and business operations; lessons in industrial design for repair and recyclability; and in environmental education and communication.
  • Increased awareness of electronics laws and recycling options.
  • Increased awareness of sustainability issues surrounding electronic products throughout their lifecycles.
  • Decreased misconceptions regarding the disposability of devices and prohibitive complexity of electronics repair and maintenance.
  • Contribution to the overall efforts to make ours a more sustainable campus with a reduced carbon footprint.

The project team will use SEI’s Sustainable Electronics Campus Consortium as an advisory group, providing input and feedback on project progress and development. The project is just getting started, but there will be more information on the SEI web site and posted here on the blog over the coming months. In the meantime, if you have questions or want to be added to the campus consortium list so you can become involved in meetings on this and other relevant efforts, please contact Joy Scrogum.

SSC_Logo

Special Edition of Challenges Journal on E-waste Issues Re-Opened, Submissions Due 12/31/15

challenges-logoBack in 2013, ISTC Emerging Technologies Resource Specialist and current SEI Coordinator, Joy Scrogum, and ISTC Affiliated Faculty Scientist, William Bullock, served as guest editors for a special issue of the journal Challenges, entitled “Electronic Waste–Impact, Policy and Green Design.” 

The journal’s editors recently received multiple requests to reopen this special issue. Scrogum and Bullock have once again agreed to serve as editors.

From the issue’s rationale:

“Electronics are at the heart of an economic system that has brought many out of poverty and enhanced quality of life. In Western society in particular, our livelihoods, health, safety, and well being are positively impacted by electronics. However, there is growing evidence that our disposal of electronics is causing irreparable damage to the planet and to human health, as well as fueling social conflict and violence.

While global demand for these modern gadgets is increasing, policy to handle the increased volumes of electronic waste has not kept pace. International policy governing safe transfer, disposal, reclamation, and reuse of electronic waste is nonexistent or woefully lacking. Where laws do exist about exporting and importing hazardous waste, they are routinely circumvented and enforcement is spotty at best. While European Union countries lead the way in responsible recycling of electronic and electrical devices under various EU directives, most industrialized nations do not have such policies. In the U.S., for example, most electronic waste is still discarded in landfills or ground up for scrap.

It is imperative that we consider how green design practices can address the growing electronic waste problem. This special issue is meant to do just that and spur discussions on how electronic products can become greener and more sustainable.”

If you are interested in submitting a paper for this special issue, please send a title and short abstract (about 100 words) to the Challenges Editorial Office at challenges@mdpi.com, indicating the special issue for which it is to be considered. If the proposal is considered appropriate for the issue, you will be asked to submit a full paper. Complete instructions for authors and an online submission form for the completed manuscripts are available on the Challenges web site at http://www.mdpi.com/journal/challenges/special_issues/electronic-waste#info. The deadline for manuscript submissions is December 31, 2015.

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GLRPPR

Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable

The SEI has partnered with the Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable (GLRPPR) to create a sustainable future.