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SFU works toward keeping devices out of landfills
Organizations the size of SFU have a critical operational need for data-holding devices. So, what happens when the devices are due to retire? SFU IT Services is looking at ways to reduce hardware ending up where it shouldn’t - the landfill - and instead give back to the community while reducing environmental impact.
Working with Quantum Lifecycle, a local company operating state-of-the-art reuse and recycling systems, IT Services plans to recycle and repurpose all SFU’s data-bearing devices, such as computers cell phones, tablets and servers (among other equipment). In the past, devices generally stay in service for three to five years, depending on their purpose, and then get disposed of. These devices still have a lot of life and value and could be used in other settings, but, to properly set the devices up for reuse, IT Services needs to partner with Quantum to securely erase data so they can then be re-marketed elsewhere.
By extending the life of devices, fewer head to the landfill and SFU contributes to the goal of reducing the need for raw materials to manufacture new products in the first place.
“The good news is that SFU data is properly protected when hardware is transferred and the profit from the resales is shared with SFU. Even better is that we’re avoiding putting electronic hardware into the landfill when they’re still perfectly usable in other settings,” says Shelley Sluggett, associate director, IT Services, Surrey Campus.
This program was piloted in a recent lab upgrade at the SFU Surrey campus with the next steps being to expand the pilot to more IT Services locations, aiming to be university-wide by the end of 2023.
“IT Services’ future sustainability strategy will adopt a ‘circular economy’ for electronic equipment,” says IT Services Chief Information Officer Brian Stewart. “Although this takes time, we are committed to making strides in the right direction by extending the life of our current devices. This reduces the carbon footprint of each device, lowers the need for heavy metals and provides an economic benefit as it reduces the device lifetime cost.”
Adds Stewart, “by working with stakeholders across the university, our procurement office and equipment vendors, we can develop principles that will guide our sustainability planning and demonstrate our environmental impact.”
What can the community do to extend the life of their device? Here are a few quick steps that device owners can take without much effort!
- Clean the device regularly
- Avoid extreme heat, cold or humidity
- Charge batteries properly, including not charging until down to 20% left or let it drain all the way to 0%
At SFU, we remain committed to sustainability, climate action and a better future by taking concrete steps to address climate change now.
Learn more about SFU's 2022-2025 Strategic Sustainability and Climate Action Plan and how we prioritize climate justice, resilience and action in all our work.
This story is part of a series highlighting the VPFA portfolio's work towards SFU's 2022-2025 Strategic Sustainability and Climate Action Plan. For more information on VPFA sustainability work, please visit sfu.ca/VPFA. For more information on SFU's goals and actions within the sustainability and climate action plan, please visit sfu.ca/sustainability.