SWAP website finds homes for surplus goods

Shirley Warren had a toner cartridge worth a few hundred dollars that didn’t fit her office’s copier. She talked to her vendor to see if she could trade it in for one that did, but no luck. So she posted a message on SWAP, otherwise known as “Surplus With A Purpose,” an internal website that allows Medical School departments to post surplus office supplies, furniture or laboratory equipment so others on campus can put them to good use–and keep them out of the landfill.

“My hope is that the toner will make its way to somebody within the University system who will put it to good use, and then send back the empty cartridge for recycling,” said Warren who is a financial assistant at Communities of Care. While she hasn’t had any luck yet, she is still hopeful.

SWAP was launched last April through Resource Max, an employee group that works to optimize operations at the Medical School. “It’s better for our environment to redistribute items instead of throwing them away,” said Scott Dziewietin, senior project manager in the information services department and a project manager for the Resource Max committee.

The SWAP website is hosted on the UMMS intranet, and therefore not available to the general public.

Besides Warren’s toner, there are 19 other items currently listed on the site, ranging from X-ray viewing boxes to Styrofoam peanuts. Using the straightforward format, individuals can search for items by category, or add information about surplus materials to the listing. Posters are responsible for taking down their post if a swap is successful, said Dziewietin.

The SWAP site is limited to school-based items. People are not allowed to post personal items they would like to sell or trade. In addition to the environmental benefits of SWAP, Resource Max also hopes the program will end up saving the school money. “If the new site can facilitate an exchange, then for example a small lab that might need a microscope won’t have to go out and buy one,” Dziewietin said. “Nothing wrong with saving money and being green at the same time.”

Visit SWAP.

Individuals with questions about the SWAP website can contact Scott Dziewietin at Scott.Dziewietin@umassmed.edu or resourcemax@umassmed.edu.