Current Projects

International E-Waste Design Competition

E-waste Design Competition

During the Spring 2009 semester, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) students were challenged to create appealing, useful products from e-waste. Participants were encouraged to enroll in a School of Art and Design course on sustainability and e-waste issues (ARTD 391/591) taught by industrial design Professor William Bullock. Students in this class conducted an e-waste collection on campus to gather unused CPUs, monitors, keyboards, mice, printers, scanners and cell phones as fodder for design competition projects. Educational goals for the students included learning about ways to re-use e-waste for new and productive means, exploring ideas for how to address e-waste problems, and contributing to the body of knowledge that advances the practice of environmentally responsible product design for current and future computing technology products.

In 2010, the competition expanded to a global scale where applicants were asked to submit their videos of their entries. While the competition has expanded to an international scale, Professor Bullock’s class participated with the local Champaign County Electronics Recycling Drive, and the class received donated electronics from Advanced Technology Recycling, which was used by the students to participate in the e-waste competition. To view the winning videos, please visit the SEI videos/presentations page.

For more information about the competition, email questions to Joy Scrogum, see her blog post and press release blog, or the International E-Waste Design Competition web site.

Additional information is available on the Sustainable Electronics Initiative (SEI) Press Coverage page and the SEI Photo Gallery.

ISTC Sustainable Electronics Seminar Series

In Fall 2012, ISTC will host a series of webinars focused on sustainable electronics issues, featuring research and perspectives from members of the University of Illinois community and experts from around the country. For more information or to register for the webinars, see the ISTC website. The webinars will also be archived on the ISTC website.

The final webinar in the Fall 2012 series will be the International E-Waste Video Festival, at which the winners of the 2012 International E-Waste Design Competition will be announced.

Reducing E-waste Through Purchasing Decisions

It is often the case that purchasing decisions for electronic office equipment, such as computers, printers, and fax machines, are not made with the equipment end-of-life disposition in mind. Sometimes, the end result is either disposal through the trash or through unchecked third-party disposal companies which increase the potential for environmental contamination. With funding from ISTC’s Sponsored Research Program, the Delta Institute and the Green Electronics Council have teamed up in an attempt to achieve the following goals in the green purchasing sector:

  • Identify opportunities and barriers for end-of- life purchasing decisions
  • Identify and document strategies linking purchasing & disposal options for electronics
  • Increase the recycling & reuse rates of e-waste
  • ISTC Sustainable Electronics Seminar SeriesISTC Sustainable Electronics Seminar Series  

    Examples of e-waste landfill (left) and recycling facility (right)

    A New Life for Laptops

    A New Life for Laptops

    Laptops used by government agencies and various industries typically have their hard drives removed and destroyed/erased prior to recycling as a data security measure. Funded by a grant from Dell to ISTC, cross-disciplinary teams of students, under the guidance of Professors William Bullock (Industrial Design), Hong Yuan (Business Administration), Cliff Shin (Industrial Design), and Brian Lilly (Engineering), worked in the Spring 2012 semester to create entirely new or previously unexplored applications for these discarded laptops without the addition of new hard drives. The goal was to extend the useful life of valuable materials prior to recycling. The class presented their final ideas to representatives from Dell, and then also as part of ISTC's Sustainability Seminar series as a webinar. The archived webinar and presentation slides are available on the ISTC web site at