At this point, most everyone in the tech industry and many in the general public are aware of the ongoing and growing problem of electronic waste disposal. In short, the modern digital world that we all enjoy is built on top of components that frequently contain heavy metals and other various toxic compounds. Without those toxic compounds, a lot of the stuff that we love wouldn’t work or at least would be a lot harder (read: more expensive) to make. The non-profit organization Sustainable Electronics Recycling International (SERI) summarizes the problem of electronic waste disposal this way:
Used electronics are one of the fastest growing segments of the waste stream. Electronics contain materials that are potentially hazardous to the environment and human health if not handled responsibly.
Mercury, cadmium, phosphors, lead and other metals common in electronics, as well as plastics and flame retardants, can contaminate the air, water and soil if sent to a landfill, or otherwise irresponsibly disposed of. Many of these materials are also known to cause birth defects, neurological impairments, respiratory illness, cancer, or other serious ailments in humans or animals exposed to these substances.
The explosive growth in technology consumption has created a monumental challenge: the proper management of used electronics in both the developed and the developing world.
As a result, when a piece of technology is no longer needed—whether it’s an obsolete computer server down to just the not-quite-latest smartphone—it needs to be disposed of responsibly. In many cases, the not-quite-latest thing is still good to someone, and re-use is always the first and best option. But when electronics really go obsolete or stop working, they need to be disposed of responsibly rather than as landfill-bound trash—consider it a pretty straightforward bit of responsibility that we all share in exchange for the magic of technology.
Our Future in Electronic Waste Disposal
At IT Freedom, we’re far from strangers to this problem. As we move customers to cloud-based services or upgrade server infrastructure to keep up with modern demands, we and our customers end up with a lot of obsolete hardware that needs to be disposed of responsibly.
For that reason, we are proud to announce a new partnership with one of our long-term clients, Sector Supply, on their new venture, Return2Sector. Sector Supply has long been in the business of recovering assets and hardware from telecom companies, testing and refurbishing that hardware, and reselling it to other large telecom companies. This business model has been a win for everyone involved—big telcos have a responsible way to get rid of hardware they are no longer using, other big telcos who are maintaining legacy networks have a reliable source of older hardware that they need, and we all benefit from that hardware’s extended life versus potentially ending up as trash. R2Sector is the logical extension of that business into the consumer and charity space.
The Difference Between Saying and Doing
While recycling electronics may seem like a straightforward and perhaps even obvious notion to you, it hasn’t always been the go-to strategy for electronic waste disposal. More distressingly, there is a rather significant history in the e-recycling space of fraudulent electronic recycling vendors purporting to provide e-recycling services but then not disposing of the waste properly. To quote the Texas Campaign for the Environment on the topic: “…many so-called recyclers are actually exporting your electronics to be dumped overseas. That’s not recycling!” Quite right.
R2Sector stands apart from these other vendors and issues by following a strict process that includes third-party audits and adherence to the strict R2:2013 standards. They also provide data destruction via a similarly certified process. In short, old computers and other electronics can be disposed of in a responsible, best-practices fashion without the need for time-consuming data destruction. And, maybe best of all, R2Sector provides these services free of charge.
As a company that, as a team, values and supports personal health, so too is it important for us at IT Freedom to take care of the environment together. We’re proud to partner with the friendly, responsible folks at Sector Supply and R2Sector and equally proud to provide them with top-notch IT, Internet, and voice services to help forward their business and community goals. We hope that you will join us in spreading the word on R2Sector and how their alternatives to electronic waste disposal can provide a positive impact for all of us. Happy Earth Day!