The University of Hawaiʻi’s Information Technology Services is responsible for keeping UH’s computer network up-to-date and up-and-running. But once every two years, ITS sets its sites on old electronic devices like computers and TVs by holding a statewide electronic waste (e-waste) disposal event.
“Every electronic has some kind of chemicals in it,” said Larry Wiss, communications officer at UH’s Information Technology Services department. “Once you throw it into our landfill, if it breaches and it breaks, all of those chemicals are leaching into the soil, going into the groundwater and becoming part of our waste stream.”
The Education and Government eWaste Disposal Days program features drop-off sites on Kauaʻi, Maui, two locations on the Big Island and three on Oʻahu. The sites are all on UH system campuses except for the Kona location, which was held at a local public high school.
The program is open to the general public, all public or private schools and universities, government agencies and small to medium size businesses like Independent Electronics, a TV repair company. Owner Chris Nishimura says it is the responsible thing to do since there are no electronic recycling centers in Hawaiʻi.
“We don’t want to throw things in our landfill because eventually it gets in the water and effects everybody later on,” said Nishimura. “It’s not so much us, it’s our kids and our grandkids.”
Many UH employees also came down to dispose of their old electronics. University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa researcher Michael Melzer made the trek on his motorcycle.
“You don’t want this stuff going into the landfill so I think it is a great program,” said Melzer.
The program started in 2006 when Apple approached UH about helping schools with e-waste disposal and that’s when everyone recognized how much of a need there was.
“So when they came back in 2008, they extended it to government, to military, to small businesses and non-profits and that’s what it evolved into,” said Wiss. “A public service event for all of those institutions and then one day, our last day on Saturday, is for the general public for their personal e-waste.”
All of the electronics are shipped to North America to electronic recycling plants.
Go to the Education and Government eWaste Disposal Days website for information on the program and e-waste disposal in general.