Electronics manufacturing is a resource intensive process, and no matter how hard IT companies try, there’s almost always waste. Employees at Intel, which makes the processing chips featured in many of today’s PCs, recently came up with a clever way to turn excess plastic into school supplies.
A team of Intel employees out of the company’s Chandler, Ariz., facility helped design and manufacture thousands of pencil boxes for children using 1,500 pounds of leftover plastic from its factory waste stream. The pencil box upcycling project was the first from a pilot program called “Grave to Cradle” (G2C).
Starting with plastic reels that originally held yards of computer chip components (similar to a movie reel), the G2C group collaborated with local organizations to remove the reels’ labels, grind them into small bits, and mold them into the pencil box shape.
After producing nearly 4,100 pencil boxes, volunteers from Arizona Science Lab and National Engineers Week filled them with school supplies, including a bookmark that describes how the pencil boxes were created and ways for students to incorporate sustainability into their own lives. The final pencil boxes were then donated to local schools in need.
With almost 14 million tons of plastic created in the U.S. every year, and plastic recycling rates that hover around eight percent, creative upcycling projects like this one from Intel are essential to preventing improper disposal. We recently applauded Fujuitsu for its new system of recycling CDs and DVDs into laptops, and hope that even more companies will join both companies in closing the loop in the future.