With an abundance of retired IT assets, educational institutions can become key players in long-term e waste recycling solutions. 

Much of the focus surrounding e waste has centered on private industry practices and the habits of individual consumers. This does not account for some of the biggest contributors to e waste, however.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, there are over 130,000 public and private K-12 schools in the United States. For comparison’s sake: That is the equivalent of more than 100,000 branch locations of a major company, each with their own fleet of electronics—and, therefore, a growing need to recycle old tech.

With 21% of public schools offering at least one fully online course, the need for better technology has never been greater. Historically, this has meant discarding old technology and contributing to the larger e waste problem. But there is an opportunity for schools to lead the charge for responsible e waste recycling solutions that benefits both administrations and their students. 

Technology in the classroom

The further we go into the 21st century, the more important technology has become to classrooms everywhere. Education has been fundamentally transformed as schools have been granted access to computers, smartphones and tablets. Mathematics, for example, is now often taught using a smartboard. Group projects can be completed side by side or at home on school-sanctioned laptops using SaaS programs. Computer science is now an integral part of any technologically literate education. 

Now, more than ever, schools must teach their students how to thrive in an increasingly electronic age. But what happens once schools have provided each of their students with a device for home and classroom use? Rapid technological advancement has led to issues that schools haven’t had to previously address. The most pressing issue is the growing amount of old tech to be recycled.

E waste recycling

As we have discussed previously, increases in technological advancement have led to a direct increase in e waste from discarded technology. Schools are flush with retired IT assets that, unbeknownst to many, still hold value such as projectors, printers, and more. All too frequently, these assets are discarded or placed in storage as a temporary solution.  

Consequently, schools are not immune to e waste. With the cyclical nature of school budgets, many institutions swap out for new technology when they can. Administrators must be taught how to advocate for technology upgrades in budgets. Once these requests are approved, administrators seldom consider what happens to the old technology. This is where recycling old technology becomes critical.

Steps toward accountable e waste management for schools

1.     Maintain your devices as best you can: The first step toward responsible e waste management is simple: Limit waste. By valuing your current resources for as long as possible—and treating them right—you’ll be able to extend their useful life. 

2.     Review manufacturer policies: Many manufacturers offer discounts on older electronics when it’s finally time to upgrade. So when your budget allows, go straight to the source to streamline your e waste recycling. This way, your school can manage all of your technology at once.

3.     Right to repair: Another way to invest in long-term e waste recycling solutions is by advocating for the Right to Repair movement. Right to Repair is especially critical for underfunded schools as it allows for greater educational opportunities by refurbishing and reusing older tech.

4.     Corporate electronic recycling: Running a school is hard enough as it is: Invest in your e waste management plan by accepting guidance from the experts. Partnering with a certified IT asset disposition company will help your school make the most of its resources and time. This is not only beneficial for recycling old tech, but also for keeping up with legislation and legal policies surrounding proper e waste disposal.

The best educations are ones that prepare students for whatever lies ahead. So no matter where you are with your old technology, we are here to help you invest in your school, and your students, by supporting your growth as an e waste recycling leader.

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