E-Waste Recycling

Deposit your old electronic devices at the reception areas at any ZIS campus!

What is electronic waste, and how is it a problem? Electronic devices play an invaluable role in our lives today, helping our society in many ways in areas ranging from communications to education to entertainment. But what happens when your electronic devices stop working? Where do you put those old phones, laptops and televisions? Electronic waste (e-waste) can cause a lot of damage to the environment and to human health if not disposed of properly. 20-25 million tons of e-waste was improperly disposed of in the past year, 80% of this was sent to developing countries where it was deposited into landfills for over 150,000 people (many of whom are children) to sort through searching for copper and other valuable materials, causing many damages to human health, including cancer, reproductive disorders, endocrine disruption and lead poisoning. 

At ZIS electronic devices are ubiquitous and essential to our education. 

While we are lucky to have this much technology at our disposal to improve our educational experience, we must remember that of the 1,374 devices the school employs, exactly 100% will eventually end up as e-waste. In addition to the devices the school employs, nearly all older students and faculty/staff members has a phone in their pocket, increasing our “e-waste” footprint to over 2,500 devices. It is our social and environmental responsibility to assure that 100% of these devices are disposed of properly and do not impose negative environmental and health costs on Swiss or global society. This is why the problem of e-waste should come to the attention of ZIS.

What does ZIS do to help?

For the last two years, students in the Upper School elective class Environmental Economics have investigated the issues arising from e-waste as part of their Project-Based Learning units. Last year, students Joseph S. and Lachlan H. investigated e-waste and produced a short documentary about the issue, focusing on Switzerland.

In the 2014/15 school year a group of Grade 10 students continued the project, establishing a relationship with the Swiss recycling company SWICO, visiting their Zurich offices, and creating a plan to place e-waste recycling boxes in all three campuses where members of the ZIS community can dispose of old electronic devices properly.

What is Swico?

Swico Recycling is a national, not-for-profit system for taking back discarded electronic and electrical equipment used in the areas informatics, consumer electronics, office, communications, graphics industry and measurement, and medicine technology. The company ensures that discarded products are taken back by the trade and collection points, and are recycled properly. This means breaking the electronic devices to their component parts, 95% of which are re-processed for use in industry. Ultimately, only 5% of the componentry of e-waste in Switzerland is thrown out, and of this 100% is incinerated. None of the e-waste collected by SWICO ends up in landfills, here or anywhere else in the world. This is a short film depicting the SWICO system of recycling: (watch the Swico Movie)

The Environmental Economics students have had three e-waste boxes custom-made for ZIS. The boxes are located in the reception areas of the Upper, MIddle and Lower School campuses, and any member of the ZIS community is welcome to deposit old electronic devices in them. Phones, iPods, small CD players, GPS devices; anything small enough to fit in the deposit hole can be dropped in the box and the Environmental Economics students will assure it gets passed on to SWICO for proper recycling.

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