Curtin University

Sustainability cuts costs at Curtin University

Curtin University, in partnership with HP and CompNow, is proving the positive effects of sustainable business practices. The University’s accountable actions are crucial to not only Corporate Social Responsibility improvements, but also driving down the costs of waste and lost time.

Ranking in the top 1% of universities globally (ARWU 2021), Curtin University is known for its high impact research, strong industry partnerships and commitment to preparing students for the jobs of the future. With 60,000 students, Curtin is also the largest university in Western Australia. Future-focused sustainability is a pillar of Curtin’s strategies for teaching, research, capital works and development. Its vision is to deliver environmental, economic and social improvements.

The Challenge

In a single technology procurement example, Curtin University rolls out 3,500 devices, plus monitors, each year. The waste issue had to be confronted.

The Solution

CompNow and HP are supporting Curtin University’s target of sending nothing to landfill. To cut plastics from the supply chain, Curtin demands suppliers have the highest standards in design and production of devices as well as cardboard / paper only packaging.

The Benefits
  • Recycling for a single product, monthly order is saving 100 kg of waste from landfill
  • Switch to eco laptop bags saving $5,000 per year
  • Plastic free packaging saving waste disposal time and cost
  • IT team staff high satisfaction at having more time to help customers

We rollout 3,500 devices a year, plus monitors. The waste is in your face. We all need to take responsibility, and to demand more from our suppliers. What we’ve achieved are savings for the planet and, amazingly, in costs and time too.

Jared Gleim Manager of IT Asset Management, Digital & Technology Solutions
Curtin University

The Challenge

In 2015, the Greater Curtin Master Plan received Australia’s first 5 Star Green Star – Communities rating from the Green Building Council of Australia. In 2020, Curtin was upgraded to a 6 Star Green Star re-certification for its achievements.

Jared Gleim, Manager of IT Asset Management at Curtin University’s Digital & Technology Solutions, says: “Since 2019, that environmental building focus has filtered down to wider sustainability concepts, including modern slavery as part of that conversation, for all contracts across Curtin’s campuses.

“We now look at IT functionality with an eye for the planet and its people. It is not just about the purchase, but entire lifecycle management of our technologies.”

The Solution

HP’s commitment to designing and delivering the world’s most sustainable PC portfolio began in 1987. It is currently midway through a 10 year plan to significantly reduce the impact of its entire portfolio. As an example, the production process of HP’s current Dragonfly laptop range gets the tick with its low chemical use, ocean-bound plastics at only 10%, and it is 95% recyclable. The company’s dedication to sustainability takes many forms, including specific webinars and training for customers.

And CompNow’s expanding sustainability vision includes providing complete lifecycle management solutions through their IT asset disposition brand – SustainIT.

Curtin was impressed with the reference site Electronics Watch, which puts its people into factories across the world to assess the rights of workers in the electronics supply chain. And with both CompNow and HP being signatories of the Australian government’s mandate for large enterprises to eliminate modern slavery from their supply chains, this has enabled Curtin to continue with their sustainability mission.

“Part of this change is the power of the customer. End users are demanding more. So don’t be afraid to ask for better from your suppliers,” Jared says.

When it comes to consideration of the environment as a business imperative, Jared says: “Starting from somewhere, anywhere, is a good start. Everything is possible now. HP and CompNow provide us with some pretty strong shoulders to stand on. Selecting greener products is no longer the costlier option – they actually save you on so many levels,” Jared says.


The Benefits

It may seem counter-intuitive that waste can be reduced by regularly turning over equipment, but HP, in this instance, and CompNow’s approach to device lifecycle management generally, is to refresh equipment at the point that maximises ROI.

“By refreshing each device at the 3-year mark we save money and stop devices going to landfill. If we kept them for another, say, two years, we’d be facing higher licensing expenses and increasing reliability costs. We also want to avoid reputational issues as Curtin prides itself on providing students and staff with the best. And at that point, devices have great re-sale value for us. They are prepared and on-sold to a new owner who does not have the same high capacity requirements. The devices are capable of providing adequate service for potentially another 5 years. And as HP’s components can be recycled, it’s re-use rather than the bin. It’s all win,” Jared says.

Curtin also offers the example of its monthly order of 100 HP Elite devices. The Elite is EPEAT (Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool) Gold certified, which ranks the environmental effect of a product. And with HP and CompNow’s complete, responsible lifecycle management, “at 1.32 kg per device, that’s about 100kg a month not going to landfill – you can feel good about that”, he says.

Small changes add up to large improvements. CompNow supplies every new laptop in a ProCycle bag made from 80% recycled materials and, Jared says, “the added bonus is that they are cheaper – we saved $5,000 last year”.

The Asset Management team has to deal with all the day to day waste generated by IT. Jared says: “Our mountain of waste was terrifying. Our job is to enable technology use and we were spending large amounts of each day coping with rubbish. We had cardboard – 10 to 15 commercials bins per week – as well as toxic styrofoam & single use plastics. That created a time wasting monster, took up expensive warehouse space, and cost us in different forms of waste removal. And we’re only one university, in one city. The problem is huge.”

But one small change has made a vast difference. Curtin required its suppliers to shift to using all paper/cardboard.

“Rather than standing at the bins separating boxes from styrofoam inners, we can spend time with customers helping them with their technology. The changes we’ve made in the last couple of years have been really positive for our team and their job satisfaction.

“Doing our bit for the planet and its communities is exciting. Having eliminated the plastic, we’ve taken the guilt and manpower out of managing our packaging disposal,” he says.

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