It’s not the holiday season just yet, but the Computing & Information Technology (CIT) elves were busy over the summer replacing 567 (yes, really!) total pieces of computer hardware – desktops, laptops and monitors. When you have purchased a computer for yourself, you may remember the copious amounts of packing materials. Cardboard boxes, Styrofoam around everything, plastic bags around cords, connectors and installation DVDs – it adds up to a lot of materials. Now magnify your one purchase by 567 and you’ll get an idea of the volume of ‘stuff’ CIT was generating with their unpacking.
Although the cardboard has been recycled for many years, this is the first year that the plastic bags, plastic film and Styrofoam went to a recycler instead of the landfill. With the new plastic film recycling program started in Spring 2014, and with help from the Environmental Management and Business Institute’s John Arendt to find a home for the hallway of Styrofoam, this year the vast majority of the packaging was recycled! “I never realized how much waste we produced from computer packaging until we put it all in one place,” said Ryan Ledvina, computer inventory and allocations manager.
ACH Foam of Fond du Lac made the trip up to campus to collect the Styrofoam and helped us keep the material out of the landfill. The recycling process at ACH Foam either grinds the material to be reused in new expanded polystyrene (EPS) materials or it is processed into a resin for making products such as garden furniture, coat hangers and crown molding.
Just in case you wondered where the replaced computers and monitors end up, they are either used to upgrade existing public and student workstations or made available to purchase through our on-campus surplus program. You can get an HP desktop with Windows 7 for $100 (2010 models) or $150 (2011 models), as well as 2011 21.5” iMacs ($400) and Gateway 19” widescreen monitors ($15). Visit the Surplus website to learn more and keep the recycling and reuse going strong!
Big shout out to the CIT staff for taking the initiative to collect and manage the packaging waste for recycling!