“We hold an e-cycling event at our Back-To-School Night in the
fall,” said Steve Taffee, an ISTE Special Interest Group Technology
Coordinator member from Castilleja School in Palo Alto, California.
Through its partnership with community members, the school is
recycling 1,000 units per year.
The International Association of Electronics Recyclers (IAER) has a certification program for responsible recycling, conducting third-party audits of
electronics recycling facilities.
Step 4. What others are doing. An informal poll of two of ISTE’s special
interest groups, reveals widely varying
e-waste solutions enacted by school
districts. They are limited, in many
cases, by the recycling resources available to them. Members of the Special
Interest Group for Technology Coordinators (SIGTC) and the Special
Interest Group for Computing Teachers (SIGCT) report that some schools,
like the University of Northern Iowa,
sell used equipment at an auction
three times a year, according to Associate Professor Leigh Zeitz. Director
of Technology Pamela McLeod said
the board policy in her New Hampshire school district requires they
first attempt to sell old equipment,
and then donate it to schools, libraries, or nonprofits before discarding
it. “Our town transfer station accepts
electronic equipment for e-waste recycling, so that is our preferred method
of disposal,” she said. Like many others in her position, she is recycling
some equipment for which there is no
market. “This year we are recycling
about 40 old CRT monitors for which
we were not able to find a seller or a
donation recipient,” McLeod added.
Many schools, such as the Mount
Carmel Academy in New Orleans
where SIGTC member Russel Dero-che Jr. teaches, donate usable equipment to a local charity and send the
rest to a recycling firm. Educators in
the San Francisco Bay Area have available to them some of the most aggressive and thorough recycling firms
such as Green Citizen. That’s the firm
partnering with the Castilleja School,
according to SIGTC member Steve
Taffee. His school recycles about 1,000
units a year, and its recycling effort
also extends to the larger community.
“We hold an e-cycling event at our
Back-To-School Night in the fall,” he
explained. “Parents can drop off certain items that we can recycle for free
at Green Citizen; very popular. The
tech department also takes laptops,
monitors, TVs, cell phones, toner cartridges, and batteries at any time
of year for e-cycling,” Taffee added.
It’s illegal to donate used equipment
directly to charity in the state of Iowa,
according to SIGTC member Gordon
Dahlby. “School equipment is, at face
value, owned by the taxpayers. One
must either sell it to the highest bidder, set a fair market value to sell it to
the public (which could be purchased
by nonprofits), or dispose of it by lot
or bid,” he explained. Dahlby also
mentioned that the donation of used
equipment may be disallowed in some
states, because it might appear to be
donating to poor families at the exclusion of any particular group of taxpayers. “The slippery slope is identifying
needy families and also not incurring
any future support costs once the units
are out of district control,” he said.
Wayne Burnett, primary ICT specialist and coordinator of learning
technologies at the German European School in Singapore, had an
even more startling situation, “We
looked at an orphanage the school is
supporting in nearby Bintan Island,
Indonesia. The offer was turned down
because they do not have electricity.
That might be a problem for a few
international schools,” he added. In
Singapore, he had the opposite problem: The charities there had notable
requirements in terms of operating
systems, and so they, too, were uninterested in his used equipment.
Step 5. Put together your plan for responsible e-waste management. After
educating yourself and stakeholders
about applicable e-waste legislation
and researching local recycling opportunities, consider viable solutions
for your organization. Keep in mind
partnerships locally and internationally and involve the whole community
in the solution.
Hewlett-Packard video showing how electronic
scanning of sorted e-waste works: hpbroad-
Riverside Waste Machinery: www.
SSI Shredding Systems: See how easily large
items such as printers, copy machines, and
even entire Volkswagens are shredded: www.
Basel Convention: www.basel.int
California Waste Recycling Act of 2003:
Electronics Industries Alliance: www.eiae.org
European Union: ec.europa.eu/environment/
Greener Computing (international clearinghouse tracking industry efforts): www.
International Association of Electronics
National Electronics Recycling Information
TakeBack Coalition: www.computertakeback.
U.S. EPA: www.epa.gov/epaoswer/hazwaste/
Caprice Lawless, former senior
editor for L&L, has been editing scientific and educational
publications for 20 years.