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"We want to reduce our share of residual waste to almost zero"

The Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) planted a total of 88 trees at the end of 2019. It did so together with Natuurpunt. For the financing, the university used the proceeds it received for recycling its electronic waste.

Out of Use took care of the collection and recycling of this e-waste. " We are talking about hardware such as laptops, computers and servers", says Mark Adriaenssens of Out of Use.

The VUB and Out of Use have already been working together for two years. The university approached the Limburg company after IT company Smals had set the tone. "This was then widely reported in the press. The VUB then paid us a visit. Together we determined the modalities. We put it in a service level agreement (SLA) for the collection and processing of their electronic waste."

Annual campaign
Meanwhile, it is an annual habit of the VUB to run a campaign on the collection of electronic waste. "During this period, their employees and students can dispose their old laptops, computers, smartphones, tablets and servers in a special Out Of Use collection box. Recently, they announced that from now on they will be collecting these devices throughout the year. Both from staff and students, via collection points spread across the campuses."

Out Of Use takes care of the collection of the electronic waste and the safe removal of data and processing. "Moreover, in an environmentally and socially responsible manner. With a complete disassembly in Belgium. After the complete data removal and destruction, we examine for each device whether it is suitable for reuse or whether it will be completely recycled. This year, for the VUB, that meant 31 laptops, 32 PCs, 15 non-reusable mobile phones and 21 servers.”

Sustainable operations
Sustainable materials management and circular purchasing are core objectives within the sustainable management of the VUB. For the university community, it is the priority after an energy-efficient infrastructure.

Rebecca Lefevere, sustainability coordinator Vrije Universiteit Brussel: "To make all our material flows sustainable through circular purchasing, to reduce our total amount of waste and to reduce our share of residual waste to almost zero. That must be the ultimate goal of a radically sustainable university that wants to reduce its climate impact."

Danny Vijverman, ICT system engineer Vrije Universiteit Brussel: "2018 was the first year the VUB collaborated with Out of Use for the recycling of e-waste. The ICT department took the lead back then. This year, the VUB greenteam and the ICT service have joined forces."

88 trees planted
The VUB wanted to donate the proceeds from the recycling of the e-waste to a good cause. "Most companies that work with us do this," says Mark Adriaenssens. "In this case, it was 'Bos voor Iedereen' by Natuurpunt. During a tree planting day, 40 to 50 people planted trees with us. For the VUB, that was 88 trees. It is a successful campaign where we hand out the certificates on the spot. For those who cannot be there, we will send these certificates digitally from now on."

For tree planting, Out Of Use also cooperates with Natagora in Wallonia. In this way they were able to plant a total of 10,000 trees.


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