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Sustainability Strategies: Computers and Electronics

  • (Offices & Residential) Recycle inkjet cartridges:
    • The university benefits from turning in cartridges for recycling as it helps keep costs down.
    • Used cartridges are recycled through the Materials Distribution Center (MDC). Residence hall front desks serve as a collection point.
  • (Offices) Turn usable computer and electronic equipment into surplus if it can be reused.

Tech Waste:

  • The National Safety Council estimates that nearly 63 million computers became obsolete in 2005.
  • The average lifespan of a computer has fallen from 4.5 years to an estimated two years in 2005.
  • An estimated 10.2 million used computers are exported from the U.S. each year. Most end up in countries that have less stringent environmental laws than in the U.S.
  • It is estimated that Americans own more than 500 million TVs (working and non-working) in the U.S. The CRT (cathode ray tube) in a TV monitor can contain up to four pounds of lead.

Source: Basel Action Network as cited at www.e-cyclemo.org (October, 2008)

  • (Residential & Office) Cell phones can be dropped off at the Student Services Desk in the Administration building.
  • (Offices & Residential) Rechargeable batteries - Can be recycled through Scott Walk, NW Health & Safety Manager. Residence hall front desks serve as a collection point.
  • (Residential) Wondering what to do with all the broken, used up, and unwanted stuff accumulating in your home? In some cases, you can take it back to a store. A growing number of retailers are offering programs that make it easy for you to responsibly recycle castaways. So, next time you go shopping consider packing more than just your reusable shopping bags. Here's a sampling of some national programs.
    • Sam's Club - As of November, 2008, Sam's Clubs will take used electronic equipment and issue a Sam's gift card in the amount of the value of the used item.
    • Best Buy takes cell phones, rechargeable batteries, and ink jet cartridges at all its U.S. stores. You can learn about its weekend recycling events and other programs at the company's website.
    • Home Depot has a recycling program for compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs), cell phones, and rechargeable batteries available at all of its stores in the continental U.S. and Canada.
    • Office Depot will give you a $3 coupon for every ink or toner cartridge you bring in. Drop off old cell phones and rechargeable batteries for free. For other tech trash, Office Depot sells Tech Recycling boxes (for $5, $10, or $15 depending on size) that you can fill with an unlimited amount of electronics and hand back. Check out its website for more details and other recycling programs.
    • Radio Shack accepts old cell phones and rechargeable batteries. They also have an online program that's worth looking at.
    • Staples offers free recycling for smaller electronics (like cell phones, PDAs, and rechargeable batteries) and computer peripherals (such as mice, key boards, and computer speakers). Bring in your old computer, printer, or other office technology and pay a $10 fee for recycling. You'll also get $3 in Staples Rewards when you recycle HP, Lexmark, or Dell ink and toner cartridges.
    • Try searching Earth 911's extensive database for other local options.
  • (Offices & Residential) Buy Energy Star Equipment
    • Energy Star offers the most comprehensive electronics rating system out there. They rate all kinds of electronics and appliances, including home and business items.
    • If you have any role or involvement in purchasing in your department, make sure that your office is purchasing Energy Star equipment including computers, printers, fax machines, scanners, etc.
  • (Offices & Residential) Computer Energy Saving Modes vs. Screensavers
    • First of all, screensavers are not an energy saving option- the computer and flatscreen are still consuming full power. Screensavers can sometimes actually keep your computer from going into a power saving mode! But here's what you can do…
    • Enable the Power Management features of your monitor:
      • Hibernate mode - when you "hibernate" the computer, it will make a copy of what is in its memory and save it to the hard drive. When you start it back up, it will quickly restore from this copy--all your files, emails, and windows will be open just as they were when it went into hibernation. This mode consumes about 1.5 watts. "Hibernate" is the recommended option for week days.
      • Shutdown mode - when you shut down the computer, it closes everything and turns off. This provides the computer an opportunity to clean up all the memory and minimizes computer malfunction. "Shutdown" is the recommended option for weekends.
      • Standby mode - when your computer is in standby or "sleep" mode, it will wake up quickly if you jiggle the mouse or tap the space bar. During standby it consumes about 2 watts.
      • The best energy saver is to make sure your computer and peripherals like printers/scanners are turned off when you leave work every day. Consider using a "power switch" as an easy-off option to avoid "phantom loads."
    • Setting Hibernate Mode - To put your computer in Hibernate mode (Windows XP):
      • Step 1: First, make sure your computer is capable of hibernation. Click on the "Start" menu -> Settings -> Control Panel -> Power Options. (If you can't find it, look under "Control Panel -> Performance and Maintenance".) Select the " Hibernate" tab and make sure the "Enable hibernation" box is checked.
        Hibernate
      • Step 2: Go back to the "Power Schemes" tab. Set the settings as you see below: Turn off monitor after 30 minutes, Hibernate after 2 hours. This is so if you leave your office for an hour or longer, the monitor will turn off. You will need to move the mouse or press any key for it to become active. But if you are gone for more than two hours, the PC will put itself into a deep energy saving mode. When you are back in the office, press the power button of the PC for the PC to turn back on to its active state.
        Hibernate
      • Advanced (optional): Go to the Advanced tab. You can also change what the power button on your desktop does for convenience--if you set it to Hibernate, then when you leave for the night, all you have to do is press one button.
        • Note - As with any technology, it is recommended that you take precautions in case Hibernate mode doesn't work for you - some users or certain computer systems may experience problems or freezing when using Hibernate mode. If you were working on an important document or project, please make sure that you save and close the document before you leave your office. Then if there are any problems, you will not lose any unsaved information. If you have any trouble, we suggest you try using "Sleep" mode, which still saves most of the energy, but may avoid any of the Hibernate mode problems you run into.
      • If you use a power strip for your electronics, make sure you turn off each item before turning off the power strip. Otherwise, when you turn the power strip back on, an initial surge of energy will go to each unit and will waste considerable energy.