As an IT guy, I’m surrounded by electronics: computers, servers, mobile devices, phones, and monitors, printers and more. And at home I have even more electronics: PCs, TVs, radios, MP3 players, DVD players, DVRs, and too many other gadgets to mention.
In addition to being a gadget head, I like data. One particular data point worth mentioning is from the EPA regarding eWaste. In 2007, some 2.5 million tons of TVs, computers, peripherals, mice, keyboards, and cell phones were discarded in the U.S. – nearly enough to fill a line of dump trucks from our nation’s capital to Disney World.
As major consumers of electronics, businesses can significantly reduce these numbers through reuse and recycling. That's important because electronics contain substances that can pose risks to human health and the environment if not properly managed. Leading the list are lead, mercury, cadmium, PVC plastics, and brominated flame retardants. Reusing or recycling electronics can benefit both the environment and your corporate social responsibility efforts.
Before discarding any IT asset, consider reuse. At Sprint, we collect all kinds of end-user equipment through our PC Pickup program. It’s reconditioned and redeployed as much as possible. In a single year, this effort enabled Sprint to save $7 million that would have been spent on new IT equipment. Beyond cost savings, reusing electronics reduces the energy consumption and pollution connected with manufacturing new products. It also reduces the demand for limited natural resources.
When electronics can’t be reused, there is recycling. One way your business can recycle is by donating gently used computer equipment to local schools and charitable organizations. If your equipment is broken or obsolete, it can still be recycled to recover materials such as precious metals, plastics, and glass.
Look for a reputable, e-recycling program or company to help. Here are a couple of resources that you may find helpful. CEA's My Green Electronics site lists national take-back programs. You also can search online for e-scrap recyclers. Seek companies who have been certified in ISO-14001 and/or EPA R2 standards. Sprint can even help you to responsibly recycle wireless phones, batteries, accessories, and data cards. For details visit Sprint.
I’m proud to work for a company committed to reducing its e-waste and helping others to do the same. I’d love to hear about the great things your company is doing, too. By leading the way, business can help to significantly boost the reuse and recycling of electronics in the U.S.