UNC Surplus, located on Estes Drive near the UNC Administrative Office and Giles Horney Buildings, takes any campus item that a department has outgrown or no longer uses and sells the usable merchandise to other campus departments, students, and to the public. All items are priced at $500 or less.
Equipment that is not reusable is recycled or disposed of responsibly. Merchandise that is not sold is palletized and sent to the state surplus in Raleigh.
In September, in anticipation of Three Zeros Day, we spoke with Al Jeter, Surplus Property Officer, about his department and its role in sustainability at UNC.
How many staff members do you have at UNC Surplus?
We have two permanent and 12 temporary staff members. It used to be that when departments were renovating, they would factor in moving expenses to the changes needed. But now, a lot of times a department will call and ask us to pick up their belongings — this takes up more time from our staff, who have to pick up the items, haul them to Surplus and then stage them for sale. It can get quite busy here.
How does UNC Surplus contribute to the Three Zeros environmental objectives?
When computers are recycled at Carolina, the drives are removed and then shredded by the Secure Date Destruction System, a shredder we have here on site. Each month, UNC Surplus recycles an average of 10 tons of electronic waste and 351 tons of scrap metal waste per month. Leftover parts are then sent to PowerHouse Recycling Inc. of Salisbury, N.C., resulting in zero electronic waste for the university.
What kind of items do you sell?
We have seen just about everything come through Surplus. We sell computer equipment, pianos, graduation gowns, file cabinets, furniture, electronic devices, Guitar Hero guitars, glass beakers. The glass beakers sell very quickly. The items change each week, as we get new inventory.
What is the strangest item that you’ve ever sold?
The strangest item that I’ve ever sold was a group of anatomically-correct mannequins, which caused such a stir. I had one customer demand that they be dressed so that she could continue to shop without distress. I eventually sold them all to a woman! She didn’t say why she wanted them.
How many customers do you serve a week?
We serve between 100 – 125 customers per week, depending on the time of year. Our busiest time is generally during the months of June and July, when a lot of athletic equipment is sent here to be recycled.
What are your retail store hours?
We are open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and we take a brief lunch from noon to 12:30 each day.