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University of Phoenix sustainability efforts on e-waste see environment, security, and social giving benefits

By Sharla Hooper

Relationship with ER2 ensures diversion of e-waste from landfills and technology donations to students

University of Phoenix is pleased to share that its focus on sustainability in securely disposing of electronic and technological device waste (e-waste) has realized significant gains by diverting 1,080,918 pounds of landfill waste and making $58,412 worth of donated devices to students to date. Through an agreement with ER2, a technology solutions company, University of Phoenix implemented sustainability practices that ensure safe, secure disposal of e-waste.

Globally, e-waste and its negative impacts on the environment are growing by an average of 2 million Metric Tonnes (Mt) each year, with 57.4 of new e-waste generated in 2021. Only 17.4% of e-waste is known to be collected and properly recycled.

University of Phoenix Code of Ethics establishes its corporate citizenship position and commitment to sustainability, stating that it seeks “to prevent pollution, minimize waste, lower our carbon footprint, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and conserve energy and natural resources whenever we can.” In selecting a vendor to support implementation of regulatory, sustainability and service standards as well as giving opportunities, University of Phoenix contracted with ER2 to meet these goals. ER2 provides IT asset management and secure data destruction for IT assets that need replacement across the institution, with a focus on sustainability and opportunities for giving.

“Our Code of Ethics gives us a strong directive to be responsible environmental stewards,” states Claudiu Budurlean, MBA, senior IT director. “ER2 provided us with the ability to meet our regulatory standards for secure disposal, as well as the opportunities to reduce our environmental footprint and give back to our student community where the need is greatest.”

Since implementing the program with ER2 in 2020, University of Phoenix has diverted 1,080,918 pounds of landfill waste. In addition to total landfill waste being diverted, ER2 tracks the environmental impact of the University’s recycling program, in the following categories:

  • 10,645.91 pounds (about 4,828 kg) of toxins diverted (from landfill or dispersal);
  • 125,040.63 pounds (about 56,717 kg) of metals saved (by having e-waste recycled and not dumped);
  • 516,083.78 pounds (about 234,091 kg) of greenhouse gases reduced (in the production of a computer); and
  • 58,900.90 gallons (about 222,964 L) of water saved (as in the production of a computer).

Each category is a calculation based on the poundage of e-waste recycled from University of Phoenix through ER2. These categories reflect landfill diversion and production avoidance. ER2 estimates these values based on research performed by e-Stewards and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

“For a number of our clients who begin working with ER2 to securely manage and dispose of their electronic assets, the story at the forefront is not necessarily the environmental impact,” said Emily Boser, Chief Experience Officer at ER2. “However, as our relationship expands, and they are provided with the impact metrics that accumulate over time, it can be very eye-opening, and they realize how much the relationship is about serving sustainability initiatives as well.” 

“With the University of Phoenix, we know that as their digital footprint has altered, with many of their staff and faculty now also virtual, they have been able to keep pace with the need for environmental sustainability,” she added.

ER2 also calculates the value of the devices decommissioned to accumulate “technology dollars.” ER2 gives its clients this bank to in turn donate equipment to others, be it a nonprofit organization or individuals. Through this program, the companies’ shared goal to provide technology for under-served communities has allowed University of Phoenix to provide students in need of laptops with the devices to access online education and help bridge the technology gap.

To date, University of Phoenix has been able to donate 204 devices to students, with a value of more than $58,000. These refurbished and donated laptops were put back into use and not relegated to a landfill, and so further contribute to environmental stewardship.

About University of Phoenix

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