The Business Case for E-Cycling

By Darryl Lewis

Let’s say you were to travel back 10 years in time. Although that may not seem like a long time ago, the technology available was certainly different. For example, most people you would see on their cell phones (if they had a cell phone in the first place) would have flip phones. The iPhone wouldn’t be introduced by Steve Jobs for another year. HD televisions were around, but they were significantly steeper in price than they are today. If you waited until the holiday season in 2006, the PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii would make their debut in stores. Sony and Nintendo have released next-generation systems since.

The point of this brief look at technology in 2006 is to highlight the fact that technology is perpetually improving and what was best-in-class today is obsolete tomorrow. All businesses, educational institutions and other organizations will eventually need to update their computers, servers and other electronic equipment to comply with any regulatory requirements, as well as to stay competitive with others in their industry.

But what about all of that old computer equipment that once was an important part of operations? Think about your own household. Do you have an old flip phone or game system in your basement or garage just gathering dust? Businesses may have old equipment lying around as well. What they do with it can have not only a major impact on not only their bottom line, but also our planet’s future and human health.

The case for recycling your old equipment

In a blog post from Exit Technologies, the author highlighted several statistics that should make anyone concerned. Exit Technologies is one of several electronic waste recycling companies that help organizations recycle their computer equipment for cash. Did you know that only 20 percent of all computer equipment is recycled every year? When 99 percent of the materials found in electronic assets, like computers, are recoverable, this number doesn’t seem nearly high enough.

This is especially the case when it is so much less expensive to recycle metals from waste than to use new metals to create these electronic goods.  According to one U.N. study, it takes 530 pounds of fossil fuels, 48 pounds of chemicals and 1.5 tons of water to manufacture one computer.

If we as consumers and businesses are looking to stay on top of the latest technologies, it could have some serious consequences on the environment.

Therefore, organizations and consumers must do everything possible to mitigate this impact through active recycling. They must also put special emphasis on finding recycling partners that optimize the benefits of electronics recycling on the environment and human health.

Remember that not every recycling firm is the same

When conducting a search on electronic waste recycling companies, it’s important to assess whether the recycling company has the basic certifications as a responsible recycler.

Sustainable Electronics Recycling International (SERI) is a nonprofit responsible for housing the R2 standard, which outlines information related to reusing, repairing and recycling electronic equipment with special attention paid to date destruction, storage and security. It also details best practices for mining and processing materials derived from the equipment with the least impact on the environment and human health.

In addition to R2, e-Stewards is another accredited certification standard businesses should look for when assessing electronics recycling companies’ qualifications and experience.

Is e-cycling a financial and moral necessity for today’s public-facing businesses?

Ultimately, the benefits of recycling old equipment are numerous. Not only will businesses and organizations be able to recoup some of their losses through recycling and reselling their old computer equipment, but they will also help to lower their own footprint, which is increasingly becoming an issue for consumers.

Individuals want to shop and work for companies that play an active role in sustainability. While it may be impossible to stick with your computer equipment in the face of new technologies, this doesn’t mean you have to be wasteful of your old technology. As CTOs, CIOs and other business leadership review their own technology planning, they should also pay attention to what they’re going to do with their obsolete equipment in order to have the strongest possible internal and external impact.

Image credit: Pixabay/beear

Darryl Lewis is a digital marketing and a fine/performing arts enthusiast. His concern about social and environmental issues is unwavering, always seeking opportunities to create a positive impact on the people in his community and the world. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Marketing from Stockton University. Follow him on Twitter@dlew4life