Bridging the Digital Divide Through E-Waste Diversion And Electronic Resources Management
This session will provide a case study of how a university can implement a life-cycle management approach to electronic waste that is financially sustainable and that works to bridge the digital divide both on-campus and within the surrounding community. The university’s Computer Recycling Center (CRC) is a nationally recognized program for e-recycling that has resulted in the diversion of thousands of pounds of e-waste from the landfill. Equity is central to the CRC’s program: low-cost computers are made available to students and staff – in many cases, to individuals who otherwise could not afford to own their own equipment. The refurbished and recycled equipment is made available in stages – first to university departments that might not have the resources to purchase a workstation, second to students, staff and faculty, and third to community organizations. In the past four years, approximately 1,500 computers have been sold at nominal cost to students and 970 computers have been donated to community organizations. The CRC also serves as a living and learning laboratory, with students representing the vast majority of the staffing resources. The student workers gain technical experience working on computers and are also actively learning about sustainability efforts. This case study will provide insight into the details of implementing this system, lessons learned, and opportunities for growth.
This session will provide participants with:
-best practices in electronic waste management;
-lessons for managing resources in a way that creates value for the university and the surrounding community;
-how administrative operations at the university can provide hands-on learning opportunities for students and community members;
- an overview of the issue of digital divide and the role the university can play in bridging the divide through affordable access to technology through a refurbishment program.