The increasing amount of electronic waste (ewaste) generated in the current digital age, along with environmental and human health impacts that can result from dumping or improper recycling of electronic equipment, is a major worldwide concern. The university has taken a proactive approach to the issue with the establishment of the UH Quarterly eWaste Pick-Up program; the program insures that UH-owned equipment is recycled in an earth-friendly process in certified recycling centers. Thanks to Apple, who sponsors the program and arranges for disposal of the equipment free-of-charge, the UH community can be certain that toxic chemicals contained in ewaste does not enter Hawaii’s landfills or waste stream, and just as importantly the ewaste will not be shipped overseas to countries with ineffectual labor and environmental recycling regulations. Follow these best practices to insure that unwanted UH-owned ewaste is properly disposed of.
1 - Securely Delete Data – Security of information is a major concern with electronic equipment; even an office copy machine may contain data that should be safe guarded. Relying on the Delete function or Trash folder on a computer to erase data is not a safe practice; review the ITS AskUs article Securely Deleting Electronic Information for steps that can be taken to insure that data is sufficiently erased from a variety of devices.
2 - Check if others can use it – If the device is still usable after securely erasing it, issue an internal email or memo within the department to see if anyone has use for the unwanted equipment; if not then advertise it as available on the UH Electronic Swap Meet where surplus materials and equipment can be transferred between departments within UH. The Swap Meet also contains a section for listing of Wanted Items.
3 - Verify Inventory – Prior to disposal of ewaste contact department Administrative Officers (AO) or Fiscal Officers (FO) who may be responsible for the inventory of equipment; verification of ownership via the serial number or state decal number on the equipment may be required. Always follow other established procedures for transfer or disposal of UH-owned equipment outlined in the AskUs article Disposal Guidelines for Unused UH Computer Equipment.
4 - Determine Best Disposal/Recycling Method – The UH Quarterly eWaste Pick-Up program is designed to provide the UH community with safe and earth-friendly friendly disposal of UH-owned ewaste; all equipment collected is processed in North America at a certified center in an environmentally responsible way. If an alternate program for disposal of UH-owned equipment is considered, an inquiry into where the equipment will be recycled is advised. If you cannot confirm that the company recycling the ewaste is R2-certified and/or certified by e-Stewards, and there is no guarantee that the equipment will not be shipped to a country with lenient recycling laws, then the UH Quarterly program is recommended for recycling. A list of contacts on each campus which participates in the UH program, along with a list of the equipment acceptable by Apple for recycling, may be found on the Quarterly Pick-Up program webpage.
A United Nations report suggests that production of waste electrical and electronic equipment could rise by as much as 500% over the next decade. USA Today predicted that manufacturers will produce 70 million tons of ewaste by 2014. Following these best practices and recycling through the UH Quarterly eWaste Pick-Up program is a positive step in slowing the impact that the use of electronics and their recycling will have on Hawaii’s ecosystem.