The skip and a working system (almost)

Posted on May 29, 2007


The skip (again). We have this skip, it causes much angst:

poor attempt to meet those basic 6th grade principles. No attempt to reduce the packaging that our consumables are delivered in. No attempt to reuse the waste, and certainly no attempt to recycle it.

This prompted me to write about the need for empowerment of technicians, strategies for empowering sustainable behaviour, and the need for systematic support for sustainable practitioners (including a greenskip). Others have sensibly written suggestions for a holding pen for reusable materials, redirection into other uses, and waste facilitators.

Well, it turns out that there is a cardboard recycling bin on campus. Better even than that, there is a pile of boxes stored for re-use (primarily when staff move house but also as material for Product Design’s cardboard furniture initiatives).

More even than that, our computer technicians are extremely active in reuse and redeployment of computers and peripherals. In the same basement as the neatly folded pile of boxes is an active computer rescue and redeployment system.

So, the question is, what went wrong on the day the landfill skip was full of computer packaging? To address the issues above:

  • No attempt to reduce the packaging that our consumables are delivered in. Possibly not.
  • No attempt to reuse the waste. Wrong, what is in the skip is what was left after considerable effort to reuse.
  • and certainly no attempt to recycle it. The smaller boxes (ex keyboards) are not useful for either reuse stream. They could have gone to the green recycling bin. It seems that there are few options for polystyrene for which chemical composition is unknown (especially regarding fire retardant).

Clearly we have a long way to go. The skip shouldn’t happen at all. I am extremely pleased though, that the technicians do already incorporate sustainable practices as part of their ‘normal business’.  It is unfortunate that when the skip is there, possibly for unrelated and justifiable reasons, this sustainable ‘normal business’ is overshadowed somewhat by opportunism. It is crucial that as we take a stand on sustainability we continue to encourage people’s efforts and recognise that for the most part, sustainable practice is normal business.

Posted in: CfS-TheBad