U reuse program eliminates waste of office equipment

by Josh Linehan

An institution as large as the University has a constant demand for office supplies, electronics, chairs and desks. When those supplies are no longer needed, the University’s recycling and reuse program takes over.
Beginning last March, the reuse program has attempted to redistribute the wealth of resources found in campus buildings. Any department with supplies no longer needed can have the reuse center pick them up.
Items in stock at the center, located at 3009 Como Ave. S.E., are listed on the reuse Web page and can be viewed by the public from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday. Supplies currently in stock include 450 chairs, rolling chalkboards and hospital beds.
The center also handles computers and computer equipment, and last month added an office-supply swap option to their Web page. Supplies are free to University departments and available at minimal cost to the general public.
Recycling coordinator Dana Donatucci said the program helps curb waste twice with one service.
“The idea is that departments can save money by not only getting free reusable items, but also by not having to pay to have unwanted items transported and disposed of,” Donatucci said.
The center has also added a virtual warehouse, located at www1.umn.edu/recycle/reuse.html, of items not on hand at the Como site. Items listed are available elsewhere on campus. Departments can also take digital photographs of unwanted items to accompany the listing.
“It’s a way for offices to get stuff out to us at no cost,” said Erik Kaukis, a reuse program employee. “I encourage all departments to contact us with anything they think might be useful but don’t have a use for.”
The reuse center also has a large stock of small office supplies like staplers, manilla folders, pens and pencils.
Donald Kelsey, assistant professor of Library Facilities Management at Walter Library, said he used the virtual warehouse to get rid of excess inventory earlier this year.
“We had some library shelving, tables and chairs we no longer had a use for, but within two or three calls we were able to find someone who did,” Kelsey said.
He said the reuse program helps University departments save money all around.
“It saved me a little bit, not having to get rid of the stuff, but it probably saved the people who received it $20,000 on the open market,” Kelsey said.
Donatucci felt the reuse program was a common-sense alternative to requisitioning new equipment as well as a money-saving service.
“The University has already paid for this stuff, and it seems silly for someone else to pay for it again when it’s floating around out there,” Donatucci said.

Josh Linehan covers science and technology and welcomes comments at [email protected] He can also be reached at 627-4080 x3212.