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University of Idaho Establishes Electronic Waste Guidelines

Tuesday, January 26 2010

Written by Joe Nickels

MOSCOW, Idaho – Electronic waste, or “e-waste,” is a growing environmental and public health concern. The University of Idaho has taken a proactive approach to this issue, developing its own processes for proper disposal that ensure public safety, consumer health and fiscal responsibility.

Many of the products we rely on every day, including computers, cell phones, TVs, printers and fluorescent lights, contain toxic byproducts such as lead, arsenic and mercury. When sent to landfills, these dangerous chemicals seep into soil, groundwater and sewage systems, threatening local plants and animals as well as public health.

As our understanding of the long-term effects of hazardous electronic waste grows, a new model for purchasing and disposing of e-waste has become necessary.

Oregon – where the University of Idaho transports its waste – and other states have banned all e-waste from their landfills. E-waste must now be sent to recycling centers or put back into the market for reuse. All e-waste from the university’s main campus will be sent to a vendor, who will recycle the materials and certify that they are handled in the most environmentally-friendly manner possible.

While the new standards require a modest disposal fee, they allow the university to comply with regulations and manage their own e-waste in a safe and efficient manner. According to the guidelines, “if a unit has a plug, battery, or microchip, it will be considered e-waste.” This will enable the university to meet e-waste disposal needs for years to come.

“This is a positive step forward in addressing a serious problem for the University of Idaho’s waste stream,” said Darin Saul, director of the university’s Sustainability Center, “but we must continue to be aggressive with our waste management strategies.”

While e-waste is just one piece of the waste stream puzzle, it demonstrates continued progress in recognizing and managing the university’s impact on our environment and our community.

For more information on University of Idaho’s e-waste guidelines, visit or contact Recycling, Surplus and Solid Waste at (208) 885-2091 or

As increasing environmental awareness drives interest in sustainable practices, the University of Idaho continues to seek carbon reduction initiatives to meet the current and future needs of society and to contribute to the quality of life and the natural resources in Idaho, the nation and the world. The University of Idaho emitted 38,981 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent greenhouse gases into the atmosphere in 2007, which equals 3.59 tons per student. The university has set a goal to be carbon neutral by 2030 and has begun the work to reduce carbon emissions across operations. For more information about the university’s sustainability efforts, contact the University of Idaho Sustainability Center at or visit
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About the University of Idaho
Founded in 1889, the University of Idaho is the state’s flagship higher-education institution and its principal graduate education and research university, bringing insight and innovation to the state, the nation and the world. University researchers attract nearly $100 million in research grants and contracts each year; the University of Idaho is the only institution in the state to earn the prestigious Carnegie Foundation ranking for high research activity. The university’s student population includes first-generation college students and ethnically diverse scholars. Offering more than 130 degree options in 10 colleges, the university combines the strengths of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. The university is home to the Vandals, the 2009 Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl champions. For information, visit

About the University of Idaho
The University of Idaho helps students to succeed and become leaders. Its land-grant mission furthers innovative scholarly and creative research to grow Idaho's economy and serve a statewide community. From its main campus in Moscow, Idaho, to 70 research and academic locations statewide, U-Idaho emphasizes real-world application as part of its student experience. U-Idaho combines the strength of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. It is home to the Vandals. For information, visit