With multiple computer labs, including Visual and Communications Arts labs, that need to be updated every 2-3 years and classrooms equipped with computers, EMU generates a large amount of electronic waste. The build-up of outdated computers creates a problem for EMU, a university which prides itself on environmental sustainability and limiting its impact on the developing world.
E-waste disposal is a difficult issue; with few responsible disposal options available and almost no way to claim salvage value on out-of-date computers, many organizations find themselves in a bind when it comes to e-waste.
However, EMU thinks that it has found a nice combination of compensation and social responsibility by using Redemtech, an Ohio based computer refurbishing and recycling company.
Redemtech is independently certified by the E-Stewards Organization. The E-Stewards Certification means that all of the electronic waste handled by Redemtech is monitored from the moment that it is picked up to the moment that it is safely disposed of, to ensure that it does not end up in a landfill where it could contaminate ground water, or a third world country where it could contribute to already toxic landfills.
This process of responsible recycling is the exception, rather than the norm, for companies which generate large amounts of electronic waste. According to an estimate by E-Stewards, over 80 percent of world wide electronic waste is exported from the United States.
Despite its stringent requirements for the e-waste recycling program, Redemtech also acknowledges that recycling is not necessarily the best option when dealing with old equipment. A statement on Redemtech’s website says, “It’s 20 times better for the environment to reuse electronics, and always produces better financial results.”
As such, Redemtech also offers services that allow for the reuse of products through refurbishment and re-sale. This is an approach that also benefits EMU, since according to EMU Information Services, EMU receives a portion of the profit from every piece of refurbished material sold by Redemtech.
By using Redemtech to recycle its equipment, EMU is also able to contribute to some of the programs that the Ohio-based company offers, such as Good PCs, which offers refurbished, environmentally-friendly computers at a low cost. Another program is Connect 2 Compete, which offers low income families a desktop or laptop computer for 150 dollars.
EMU also tries to minimize the impact that its technology has on the environment by extending the life of its computers internally. Although the Visual and Communications Arts studios need to get new computers every 2-3 years to keep pace in video and image editing, EMU tries to extend the life of these computers by passing them on to various other organizations on campus.
Recipients of these computers include various labs and organizations like The Weather Vane. This means that by the time EMU ships a computer to Redemtech for refurbishment or recycling, the PC or Mac has outlived its two year shelf life in the VACA Department.
-David Yoder, Opinion Editor