Sustainable electronic awards announced

By Claire Everett

Instead of putting your old cell phone in a box never to be used again, sustainable options are being created to reuse its materials.

What started as an industrial design class at the University in 2009 turned into the International Sustainable Electronics Competition. The competition focuses on the reuse of electronic waste and the prevention of unsustainable use. 

A panel of experts judge products and non-products, such as policies and educational campaigns. This year’s winners were announced at a ceremony at the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center on Thursday, which was also broadcast as a webinar.   

The winner of the product contest from Swinburne Institute of Technology in Melbourne, Australia, was awarded a $3,000 prize for his idea for smart phones to be remanufactured as cow collars to monitor the health and location of the animal. The farmer would be able to tell when the animal is fed and if it is sick.

In the non-product category, students from Instituto Tecnologico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey Campus Puebla in Mexico won the $3,000 prize for their children’s game concept. Children would build toys out of a game kit of recyclable materials to create a moving toy.

“Some students have had been interested in bringing their ideas to market,” said Joy Scrogum, emerging technologies resource specialist at the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center. “Often in the past, we’ve had people who have seen the winners and say, ‘I really love that idea, I wish I could buy one of those.’”

Now, the Technology Entrepreneur Center in the College of Engineering is offering feedback for projects to make prototypes and production in the marketplace a feasible option.

“It was nice this year because all of the winners were international this year, and we could un-mute them on the webinar to make comments,” Scrogum said. “It’s always really interesting to see the great ideas that students come up with.” 

Claire can be reached at [email protected]