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e-Waste... Electronics and Sustainability Symposium

| On 25, Mar 2011

Sustainable Electronics Initiative (SEI), a consortium dedicated to the development and implementation of a more sustainable system for designing, producing, remanufacturing, and recycling electronic devices at Illinois Sustainable Technology Center, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign is hosting the second annual symposium. John Pflueger, Principal Environmental Strategist at Dell, was the keynote speaker on the first day. Additional speakers included William Hoffman, UL Environment, Andrew Steckl, University of Cincinnati, Charles Newman, ReCellular, Courtney Rushforth, City of Urbana, Bill Olson, Motorola, Manish Mehta, National Center for Manufacturing Sciences, and Alex Lobos and Callie Babbitt, Rochester Institute of Technology. I also presented at the symposium bringing a different perspective to the sustainability initiative, emphasizing modular architecture, and consumer designs in an open source software and hardware environments.


There was a significant discussion about recycling and certifications for energy savings at the symposium. Willie Cade, CEO of PC Rebuilders and Recyclers even started an interesting discussion about the definition of ’waste’ that can be a relative term as ones waste could be other’s profit through repurposing or reusing. Thinking in more general terms, I personally realized that electronics waste is a state of material that should be considered for its transformation into next state through better planning, designs and consumer behaviors.


Topics included environmental toxicology, life cycle analysis, product design, existing and proposed policy, and more. Designers, electrical engineers, chemists, materials scientists, electronics manufacturers, recyclers, refurbishers, and remanufacturers, government representatives and policy makers, pollution prevention technical assistance providers, relevant non-profit organizations and others are present at this symposium.


It is interesting to note that many recycling and refurbishing operations are innovatively repurposing electronics waste. However, we need more pro-active approaches deployed by OEMs to reduce eWaste through well thought-through product portfolios. I would love to hear readers’ views on reducing eWaste.