The Sustainable Electronics Initiative (SEI) is a topical blog of the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC). ISTC is a Division of the Prairie Research Institute on the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. SEI is geared toward disseminating information to foster integration of sustainability into the curricula and educational experiences of engineers, industrial designers, computer scientists and others involved in the design, manufacture, consumption, and end-of-life management of electronic products.

Established in 2009, SEI was originally conceived as a consortium with members including representatives of academia, non-profit organizations, government agencies, manufacturers, designers, refurbishers and recyclers. Specific elements envisioned for the SEI included programs for research, education, data management and technical assistance. The original purpose of SEI was to conduct collaborative research; facilitate networking and information exchange among participants; promote technology diffusion via demonstration projects; and provide forums for the discussion of policy and legislation. For more information on the original concepts behind SEI, see Strategies for Improving the Sustainability of E-Waste Management Systems, prepared by the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center.

Currently, SEI educational efforts are focused on the blog which you are currently visiting, and a LinkedIn group for information and resource sharing. The Illini Gadget Garage project, a collaborative repair center which assists the public with troubleshooting and minor repairs of electronic devices and small appliances, was a recent related effort of ISTC. The Illini Gadget Garage keeps items in service longer and out of the waste stream, while empowering consumers to understand more about how their devices work and the impacts of electronics throughout their product life cycles. In addition to troubleshooting and repair assistance, the Illini Gadget Garage educates the public regarding reuse, donation, and recycling options for electronics, and collects relevant special materials (e.g. batteries, CD and DVDs, and CD/DVD cases) for recycling by national programs. The Illini Gadget Garage was developed as part of the zero waste activities of the ISTC Technical Assistance Program. As of 2019, ISTC no longer coordinates the Illini Gadget Garage; it is currently coordinated by the University of Illinois Center for Innovation in Teaching & Learning (CITL).

For more information about SEI or past projects, such as the Illini Gadget Garage, contact Joy Scrogum at ISTC.


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