Electronics Buy Back program

1. "IES electronics recycle and reuse program" (James Hootsmans, Josh Gross, Ian Deveau)

1.1. What

Our project is about recycling and the reuse of electronic equipment, primarily with items that use European power standards. We want to collect any Spanish phones, chargers, hairdryers, adapters, etc, that would otherwise be thrown away when the semester comes to an end. We are currently working on posters that we will hang up around the IES center. These posters will inform students when collection days are and what should be dropped off on those given days. To further enforce the collection days, a mass email will be sent out to the IES community. Our goal is waste = food, so we will use cardboard boxes that are being disposed of as our collection and storage bins. Once collection is done, we will make an inventory of what has been collected (online using the Sustainability club website). We would then like to store these items at IES over the holidays; so new students can have the chance to obtain these items in upcoming semesters. The system, when completed, will be easily handled by incoming students or IES faculty since it will be simple to use and the items will be well organized.

1.1.1. Similar actions from previous semesters

A similar action was attempted in the past to reuse appliances and cell phones from IES Abroad students. This action; however, was unsuccessful due to a lack of advertising and sufficient planning. Many IES students who were not taking any Sustainability courses were unaware of the action and simply did not bother to return any of their electronic goods at the end of the semester. Also, the few items that were collected were not stored properly and never ended up being redistributed to upcoming IES students. In order to make sure this does not happen with our action, we will make sure to advertise thoroughly with posters, emails, and any IES abroad newsletter if possible. We will also be sure to have numerous drop boxes placed in strategic positions throughout IES to make sure that students are aware of the Electronics buyback action. After the electronics are collected we will have an inventory system ready to use on the sustainability club website that will enable us to keep track of all the items we have collected, and that will also allow new students to see the items that are available. By talking more with the IES staff, including Caesar, we will make sure that these items are stored properly from semester to semester so that this system/action will act as a closed loop.
Past Action Page

1.1.2. SWOT Analysis

- allows for the reuse of materials
- saves people money
- less hassle trying to find items in stores
- user friendly website and inventory system
- allows students to obtain items that they may have forgotten at home or did not want to lug to Europe.

- items stock must be maintained during the school year and holidays
- has to be well organized
- participation is needed from IES community
- items must be good quality, and not missing pieces
- someone has to run the collection every year

- growth potential, in that the inventory can eventually add items other than electronics
- allows for greater cooperation between IES faculty and students
- students will be able to build on the website design and promote sustainable methods
- students will learn to recycle, particularly reuse and upcyle if items are used with care

- Without participation, there is no inventory,
- Without IES faculty support and storage place, action would fail
- Students might feel it is too much effort to bring supplies to IES
- Students would have to take up the action each semester

1.1.3. Feedback loops

Our action is intended to create a balancing loop. Because every student in IES is required to have a working cell phone durring their time abroad, most students arrive and purchase a new cheap phone from a store within the first two weeks of school. Many students also purchase European outlet adapters for their computer chargers and for other appliances. At the end of their stay in Europe these phones and adapters are almost all thrown out because they will be of no use back in the United States. This is an example of a linear and unsustainable system ("Crade to Grave"). Our action strives for Waste=Food. Instead of a linear system, it creates a balancing loop where the phones and other electronics purchased by students this semester can be reused by students in future semesters. By simply collecting the cell phones and other electronics and then redistributing them to new students the system is not linear anymore, a cycle or balancing loop has been created.

1.1.4. Advertising

Posters will be made and placed at key locations around IES, a mass email will be sent to IES community and our group will speak and promote our action at the Sustainability Class sponsored concert.
To make sure that the action is carried on into future semesters we will also make sure that incoming IES students are aware of the program before they arrive in Europe so they do not purchase the same phones at a store, thereby more eventual electronic waste. In order to do this IES will have to send out an email to all incoming students informing them of this action. We will also strive to get our action mentioned in the IES agenda book that every student recieves to further awarness.

1.2. Why this action makes things more sustainable?

Since it is already an IES mandate that all students must have a working European cellphone while studying abroad, our action works to prevent overconsumption by allowing incoming students the opportunity to re-use electronics from past semesters. We hope to change students "newer is better" attitude. Overconsumption is an important problem to curb since it increases our ecological footprint and faster depletes the earth's finite resources.

1.2.1. Potential Benefits

IES Students would be able to recycle any european electronics that they had bought during the semester, such as chargers, hairdryers, fans and cell phones. An organized inventory with all the items would allow students in the following semester to easily obtain these items without having to go and buy the expensive store options. This program would allow these electronics to continuously be re-used by IES. If IES is willing to help advertise the action it could really be a selling point for some American students deciding which program they want to use to study abroad. Parents are often nervous to let their kids go to a forgein country and without an immediate way to contact them these concerns only compound. However, if they knew that their kids would be recieving a cell phone upon arrival they will feel more at ease letting them go abroad. It could also create a large amount of positive "word of mouth," which could eventually spread our action to other study abroad programs throughout spain and the rest of Europe.

1.2.2. Potential Costs

The only potential cost here is time, and while time is valuable, if done properly this action will definitely yield a sustainable payoff. It will take time to set up the collection boxes, collect the items, put them into an inventory, store the inventory, and then redistribute the inventory the following year. Therefore the majority of the time will be consumed at the beginning and end of each semester when students are obtaining or returning items. Money will not be lost in this action because we are not planning on buying storage materials, we will use disposed of or donated cardboard boxes (waste = food).

1.3. How

In a perfect world, we would be able to have an ongoing system where someone can borrow something for a month and the inventory would automatically update that the item was taken and/or returned. However in the real world, it makes perfect sense to give items out to people to use for the whole semester and have collection days towards the end of the semester, whether before or during finals. Ideally, you want to collect the items as early as possible to give you more time to make the inventory, but like most things, students will probably wait until the last minute unless told.
In this next section we will discuss how this action was completed, with individual assignments outlined and a generic time-scale given to provide the basis for implentation of this project in future semesters.

1.3.1. "Cradle to Cradle" design

The waste that will come out of this action will be any old materials that cannot be used anymore (hopefully after semesters of use), and materials that have been received that are not complete, such as phones without pins or chargers, etc. As with the latter, we can inventory chargers and phones separately if needed, or better we can compile different parts to create complete sets. An example would be a Nokia phone from one person and a separate charger from another person being put together to have a working phone that charges. By compiling parts we are essentially taking older supplies and using them as technical nutrients to form a new or recycled system.

1.3.2. Questions for the unified survey

1. What is the minimum quality of items that you would like to see in the inventory? What would you be willing to use?
2. What is the maximum price you would pay for one of these items in the inventory if they were not free?

1.3.3. Analysis of the results in the survey

For question 1:
Answer Count Percentage
Almost Brand new (SQ001) 4 28.57%
Great condition (SQ002) 4 28.57%
Good condition (SQ003) 11 78.57%
Still works, but obvious wear and tear (SQ004) 2 14.29%
I would not be interested in buying used equipment (SQ005) 0 0.00%

For question 2 that answers ranged from 5 to 15 euros depending on the condition of the item. One respondant even said up to half of the item cost if in great condition.

Looking at the results of the survey its clear that if the inventory contains good quality items there would be a great interest in participating in the recycle and reuse program. Also the results of the second question show that money would not be an issue if the items were in good shape.

1.3.4. Incentives

Well for the people recycling the items, it lightens up their load for travel back to the US. We are also talking with Cesar to see if we could develop a tangible incentive system for those students that volunteer to donate their electronics. We hope that we can offer students a simple reward but something that still has the pull to motivate students to donate, like an IES sticker or t-shirt. For the people running the collection, they get to operate a sustainable system, while also getting first choice on quality items. For the incoming students, convenience of not having to go to a store and buy these items is a huge plus. It is also in IES's best interest to prolong our action since it acts as a great selling point for potential students.

1.3.5. Relationship with the "Sustainability Club" (SC)

The inventory will be on the Sustainability Club website, but the items are to be used by any interested IES student, therefore any willing IES student or faculty are able to run the inventory in the coming years.

1.3.6. How will this action be sustained when you are not here?

This action will be sustained when we are not here because it has a simple setup which is easy to follow and through the help of IES faculty, new students will learn about the inventory and program through orientation. All the items in the inventory will be numbered and the majority of them will have pictures for quick recognition. The items have an availability status so anyone can see what items are still available. The person running the system just has to create a login in order to edit the inventory.
For more information see the Time sheet below

Cesar has stated that storage is not an issue as long as we show him our collected items and discuss with him possible storage options.
In addition we will have include a paragraph or so in the student agenda for next year to remind students about the program.

1.3.7. Who will do what

James - Emailed Cesar on Nov. 6 and had preliminary talk with him on Nov. 3, while discussing the project further with him on November 10th. In that meeting, we discussed the possibility of advancing the inventory to have all items tagged and given number ids, so each item would be recognized as an IES sustainability club item.
Josh and Ian- Designed the posters.

On December 5th, Jane sent out an email displaying our message about collection.

We will all collect and assemble boxes to prepare for collection.
We will work as a group to collect the electronics after the drop off days and then set up and organize the online inventory. (In order to organize the inventory you have to be registered to the Sustainability club website, see links below)

1.3.8. Comparison to similar actions form previous semesters

This time around, students will make sure that there is a proper inventory and storage unit before they leave, while also communicating with IES faculty to make sure future students know about the inventory in the upcoming semesters.

1.3.9. Document format

Our electronics inventory will be located on the sustainability club website. This website utilizes FLOSS which makes it easily adaptable and sustainable over time.

IES item inventory

We chose a noncommercial creative commons license because we want to allow people to see our work and be able to modify it. We would like them to cite us and use the same copyright licenses if a modified version is made. However, we ask that no part of this report be used for commercial gain.

1.4. Time-sheet / Chronogram

IES faculty and any students who are willing to participate would just have to follow these few steps in order to initiate the action:
1. Register for the sustainabilty club website.
2. Access the inventory on the website.
3. Receive the items stored from collection at the end of the previous semester. (Location will vary, ask director for more information)
4. Advertise that there are items for use.
5. Update the status of these items on the inventory after students receive them.

Towards the end of the semester the collection process begins:
1. Send out an email about collection dates and locations.
2. Make posters to advertise.
3. Collect items, and count. Any new items should be numbered and added to inventory.
4. Update the status of the inventory.
5. Store the boxes of items for next semesters use.

Links for poster ideas and pictures: (still in progress as poster are being made)

References: Past Action Page (Mentioned in previous section as well)

1.6. Annexes

Inventory on Sustainability Website: IES item inventory Also mentioned in earlier section
Sustainability Club (http://iesgogreen.seeds4c.org),

1.7. Students involved in this action

James Hootsmans, Josh Gross, Ian Deveau

We all worked equal amounts on the project and we worked together to make this successful.

Special thanks to Ryan Devir and Connor Gavin for doing the survey

Page last modified on Monday 03 of November, 2014 19:22:03