What do a milk frother, a personal shaving device, an outdated overhead projector and a satellite receiver have in common?

They are all “e-waste” items collected at Capilano University’s Fall Waste Audit and Garbage Gala on October 20 this year.

In fact, the University collected more than two-thirds of a tonne of e-waste during the audit, with a total of 281 items gathered from both the campus and the community.

What is e-waste?

Electronic waste (or e-waste) is a term used to describe electronic items that have reached the end of their useful life. E-waste is a rapidly-growing component of our waste stream, as technology continually advances and current electronic devices are rendered obsolete. The number of electronic items requiring disposal grows as items are replaced when they break or as people choose to upgrade their personal electronic devices (cell phones, televisions, computers, etc.) to the latest model.

Why is e-waste a problem?

Aside from the amount of waste generated from discarded electronics, there are other reasons to properly dispose of e-waste:

  • To protect the environment from toxic materials that can leach out from these electronics; and
  • To save energy and resources by re-using the metals and plastics from old devices—instead of making and mining new ones.

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Waste Reduction Week

During Waste Reduction Week, students, staff and faculty as well as the local community dropped off their old electronics at a collection booth set up in partnership with ElectroRecycle as part of the Garbage Gala: A Trash Tradeshow. The booth contained interactive displays where passersby could engage in dialogue regarding the importance of recycling old electronics responsibly and considering environmentally-conscious purchases of new, necessary electronics.

The results:

  • 261 electronics collected from campus, 20 from the community
  • 696 kg total weight of electronics
  • 1.7%* energy-demand savings on campus, resulting from diverted waste

*This number is based off of the assumption that items were not replaced and were actively in use (plugged in). The energy-demand savings is based on Cap U’s total 2014/2015 kW demand of 1469 kW.

What you can do

Next time you are buying a new and necessary gadget, think about picking the Energy Star or certified environmentally friendly products! You play a key role in saving energy both on and off campus, and we remind you to please unplug all cords and devices when not in use or in need of charging.

Submitted by Marina Van Driel, Sustainability Assistant, Facilities Department

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