On January 29, 2014, the Eli Surplus Exchange celebrated its first birthday. The Eli Surplus Exchange is an online platform where Yale departments, offices, and labs can post surplus items to give or sell to other departments at Yale. Items can include office supplies, furniture, lab equipment, lab supplies, unopened chemicals, and electronics.
The purpose of the Eli Surplus Exchange is to encourage Yale units to reuse and recycle University resources, reduce procurement costs and help the University’s sustainability efforts by reducing waste which in turn helps to fulfill the Yale Sustainability Strategic Plan 2013-2016 goal to “promote and measure use of the Eli Surplus Exchange Program.”
Website tracking statistics demonstrate the popularity of the program. During its first year, 6,100 people visited the site 10,000 times and looked at 72,000 pages. Visitors stayed on the site for an average of four minutes. As of January 2014, 800 items have been posted and 640 items have been given away for free and reused within the university community through the Eli Surplus Exchange.
Since the early 2000s, Yale had a reuse and recycle program run by Traffic, Receiving, and Stores (TR&S). In 2012, Lisa Maloney, Director of Media Strategy & Project Management within the University’s Administration Department, worked with Facilities to develop what is now the Eli Surplus Exchange program.
The Eli Surplus Exchange was launched in January 2013. Interest grew as Maloney made presentations around campus and sent messaging about the program through various Yale media channels. Maloney received numerous inquiries about posting computers and other electronics. To meet this demand (while also addressing ITS’s concerns with regards to confidential data), “electronics without a hard drive” (e.g., monitors, keyboards) was added as a new category of items, which has proved popular among users. In the fall of 2013, Bass Library posted video cameras which were gone in under a half hour.
Eli Exchange is supported by numerous units on campus including the Movable Equipment Inventory (MEI) Team within the Office of Grant and Contract Financial Administration. The MEI team helps review items purchased through sponsored awards (e.g. grant funds) to ensure compliance with federal guidelines and terms of the sponsored awards before they are posted to Eli Surplus Exchange.
As the Eli Surplus Exchange heads into its second year, Maloney is working to grow the program. In partnership with an advisory committee comprised of Yale Facilities Recycling/Waste, EHS, Procurement, Sustainability, Traffic, Receiving, and Stores (TR&S), Maloney is seeking ways to increase market demand for the program and add new and relevant categories. She’s interested in honing in on what users really want from the site by conducting short surveys of website users and by reaching out to departments not currently using the site.
Maloney is excited about the initial success of the program and its potential for growth. “I want to support the university’s overall sustainability goals and would like to be greener. The Eli Surplus Exchange is my way of being greener on a much bigger scale,” said Maloney.