Flanders is one of the most forest-deprived regions in Europe

Donate old electronics and get trees – a new push to reforest Flanders

Donate old electronics and get trees – a new push to reforest Flanders

Odisee University of Applied Sciences is launching a campaign to collect old electronics that will go towards planting a new forest

Odisee University of Applied Sciences in Belgium announced they will start a fundraiser campaign during the Week of the Forest, between 10 and 17 October. The campaign has a rather simple objective - plant a new forest in Flanders in the next five years.

The campaign calls on university staff and students to donate their old electronic equipment which the university will then use to purchase the land to plant the forest. Flanders is one of the most deforested regions in the whole of Europe, with barely 11% of its territory covered by woods.

The holy trinity of the future forest

The university will finance the forest project by a large-scale targeted campaign, calling for people to deposit their old electronics. The university’s staff and students, as well as citizens, are encouraged to deposit their old phones and laptops at designated points on the campuses in multiple cities in Belgium, such as Aalst, Brussels, Dilbeek, Ghent and Sint-Niklaas.

To streamline the project, the university has teamed up with Natuurpunt (Naturepoint), a volunteer nature conservationist society dedicated to Flanders and Out of Use – an electronics recycling company. Natuurpunt will provide the necessary expertise about where to buy the land and what tree species are most suited for the environment. On the other hand, Out of Use will facilitate the conversion of old electronics into square metres of land.

Laptops for trees

All the electronic equipment collected through the campaign will be sorted into reusable and recyclable categories. After that, it will be sold off and the funds will go towards purchasing 1 hectare of land. According to Jana Demeulemeester, a representative of the university, the campaign needs to collect around 5,000 old laptops to be able to finance the forest.

According to the university, one laptop accounts for two square metres of land, while smartphones, mobile phones and tablets provide one square metre per four devices.

Robbe Papen, a representative of Out of Use, was quoted in a press release saying: “Currently, only 1% to 2% of old mobile phones and a half of old the Information and Computer Technology (ITC) equipment is recycled. That is a missed opportunity because that material is still very valuable."

Filip Hebbrecht of Natuurpunt explained the damaging effects of deforestation in Flanders, by focusing on the lack of trees in residential areas for recreation. He continued: “Moreover, forests also play an important role within the climate problem as a filter for air, carbon storage and oxygen producer, so such actions are important.”



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