Reuse is the true essence of ecology, the pillar on which circular economy should rest. According to a Doxaresearch carried out for Subito.it, the economy of reuse that “prolongs object’s life” is growing and produced a wealth of 19 billion in 2016, one billion more than in 2015, which corresponds to almost 1 point of Pil. The unbridled consumerism of our times leads us to buy, use and throw. They know this well at Parthenope University which create, in collaboration with Legambiente Campania, Mario Diana Onlus Foundation, Bidonville association, A & C Ecotech company and Municipality of Naples to RE-BIT project. It’s a computer recovery system no longer suitable for research but which can still be used. Where? In primary and secondary schools in Naples and in libraries. Before the donation, the machines are regenerated, certified by specialized technicians and open source software is installed.
VMEngine, which has always been interested in green issues and careful to good recycling practices, asked some question to one of the promoters of the RE-BIT project, Sergio Ulgiati from the Department of Science and Technology of Parthenope University of Naples.
Prof. Ulgiati what is the idea that giving life to RE-BIT project?
The idea was born in 2015 from the excellent master thesis work done by Marco Carrano and Dimitri Musella, two students of Environmental Sciences of Parthenope University and Antonio Puca, a student who graduated from Beijing Normal University as part of a collaboration agreement between two universities. These students studied the possible environmental and energy benefits obtainable from reuse or recycling of computer equipment such as computers or mobile phones, providing a solid scientific basis for the generic idea that recycling is always a good thing. From here was born RE-BIT initiative for recovery of computers still usable, but no longer suitable for the sophisticated uses of research or industrial production. This is an essential operation to prevent heavy forms of pollution due to penetration of metals and leachate of chemical products into the ground and in the water table.
What are the subjects?
The Department of Science and Technology of Parthenope University signed a collaboration agreement with Legambiente, A & C Ecotech. This is a company that operates in the field of recovery of unusable electronic material, in accordance with European directive that prescribes the complete recycling of these materials. The agreement provides that A & C Ecotech makes available to the department and Legambiente computers that can still be used, which is provided with appropriate software before donating them to potential users. Computers are also supervised and technically certified to ensure their complete security for future users.
Who is the promoter?
Parthenope University promoted and coordinated the initiative, activating the environmental and his IT skills. Some students collaborate in computer recovery, providing them with software. In some cases, the internal components of computer have been transformed into artistic objects, costume jewelery and home furnishings. In addition to Legambiente, A & C Ecotech and other associations, we were helped by the municipality of Naples that gave its patronage to the initiative.
What role does the University play in promoting good practices in circular economy?
A part from RE-BIT project, we created an Urban Wellness Laboratory, originating from activities of European project “SMACC – Smart City Coaching“. The Laboratory is oriented towards improving the quality of life in the city. Recovering resources, improving their methods of use, reducing waste generation (key concepts in circular economy) is the basis for a better life, a better environment, greater collaboration between citizens and institutions.
How many students benefit from your equipment?
RE-BIT project has provided about 40 computers to three children’s schools. At the beginning we also provide assistance for realization of computer lab. We think of use of these computers even in the neighborhood libraries always struggling with budget problems, or to citizens’ associations. We also think of individuals, especially in advanced age who could benefit from internet access for reading newspapers, finding information and leaving the isolation. “Digital divide” (division between non-computerized people and people with easy access to the network) is very present in Italy and in our region and could be reduced by the free availability of a computer.
There’s some other project regarding other schools?
In this moment, we are working on recovery of 30 computers that could be used to create a computer lab in two new institutions. We want create a network between universities and research centers of Campania.
There are institutes or associations that realise projects such as these?
Yes. Also at University of Salerno there is a research project on on recovery of electronic materials called ReCreew financed by the European Union. But there are many private associations that organize repair courses or practical seminars such as, for example, The Restart Project, a social enterprise based in London.
Finally, we’ll borrow the words of prof. Ulgiati, who presented to us this wonderful initiative, has taught us that it’s really important giving “a second chance” to objects. “There’s an increased awareness of the necessary – says prof. Ulgiati – to overcome disposable, go beyond the planned obsolescence in electronic and rebalance our relationship with growing electronic component in our life, helping us to ensure a second possibility to the devices we use, learning to use them well and repair rather than replace them soon. The environment certainly benefits and, in many ways, we also benefit from it”.