Many institutions struggle to implement an institution-wide programme for recycling and reusing their electronic waste. University of the Highlands and Islands’ Perth College’s system reaches beyond just the institution and also incorporates education for sustainable practices into its WEEE (waste electrical and electronic equipment) recycling.
The WEEE Centre at Perth College repairs and recycles old electronic equipment and resells, donates, or recycles the equipment it receives. The centre is also a teaching tool for computing students from the college, who develop skills in finding faults and repairing IT equipment, as well as transferrable skills from working in an IT reuse working environment. Students are also invaluable in building capacity for electronic recycling and reuse.
IT equipment is received from the institution when on-site PCs are upgraded, donated by individuals (staff, students, and the local community), and are also received from businesses through local recycling facilities. Unlike most WEEE recycling processes in UK institutions, personal electronics from staff and students are also included in the recycling stream, meaning the message that our electronics are repairable and recyclable goes further than internal procurement practices.
The on-site technician wipes all data from machinery before they refurbish equipment with help from the college’s students. The finished products are sold at discounted prices and the money raised goes towards funding scholarships for students as well as field trips.
The WEEE Centre also donate some refurbished equipment to local and international charities, and any equipment that cannot be refurbished or reused for parts goes to their partner Re-Tek for reuse or recycling.
The How To Guide
Perth College has provided a “how to” guide (see the Downloads section) as they believe this model would work well at other institutions. The WEEE Centre has the potential to influence staff and student (as well as institutional) purchasing habits as more repairable equipment would be desirable for those with the knowledge of how to repair WEEE.
Engaging with students, developing their skills, reducing the institution’s environmental impact and reinvesting profits to support students even further combine in this successful project to provide maximum benefit to the college’s community and environment.
Read more on the Perth College website here.