iCIT department strives to make most of e-waste

As Earth Day 2011 approaches, several different campus departments are looking to contribute to the common sustainable theme at UW-Whitewater.

The Instructional, Communications and Information Technology department has begun a new recycling program to decrease technology e-waste called TREE, which is short for Technology Repurposing and Electronics E-cycling.

E-waste consists of electronic products, such as computers, printers and cell phones, that are approaching the end of their life.

Adam Hufnagel, supervisor of TREE, said e-waste on campus used to be dealt with in one fashion without the ability to track what happens to each individual item.


“There was no guarantee that some of it was ending up in landfills or that some of it was getting recycled in the proper manner,” Hufnagel said.

The campus-wide TREE program now provides the ability to see where each individual item is going, Hufnagel said.

Recycling electronic products was never really a problem on the UW-Whitewater campus, but Hufnagel said there is still a need for it.

The program includes three phases. The first phase was devoted to improving the computer surplus program and was launched last fall. A more regular pick-up schedule and online request process for those surplus computers was instituted through TREE.

As part of the first phase, Universal Recycling Technologies, an outside vendor TREE established a partnership with, uses green recycling practices for computers that won’t be reused or sold. All computing devices are reviewed and cleared before leaving campus.

“In the past … we just had one recycling bin that a lot of things got dumped off at,” Hufnagel said. “Now we have three or four different vendors that we work with.”

Ink cartridges and toners from printers go to a company called Imagine It, where they refill, reuse or recycle the ink and toner cartridges, Hufnagel said. Batteries and rechargeable batteries go to a company called Call 2 Recycle, he added.

Hufnagel said it is important to not let ink and toner sit in landfills because they are petroleum oil-based.

The response from the campus community has been greater than expected already, Hufnagel said.

“We’ve gotten a lot of calls already about what to do with [people’s] ink and toner and how they can work with us through our program,” Hufnagel said.

The third phase is going to be expanding the ink, toner and battery recycling process by placing more boxes in more campus buildings, Hufnagel said. The third phase may also focus on allowing members from the community to drop off computer equipment as well, he added.

Hufnagel said in the future, the iCIT department is looking into virtual desktops for computers where only a fraction of the power that is currently being used will be used. However, because the program is in the extremely early stages, Hufnagel said there are no guarantees as to how it will happen.

For more information, contact the Technology Support Center at 262-472-4357 or [email protected]