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Reuse and Recycle Computers for Environmental and Social Impact

Most people are familiar with the phrase "reduce, reuse, recycle," even more so around Earth Day each year. Applying it to the life cycle of computers and other IT equipment can be an important way for all organizations to have a positive impact, regardless of whether their primary focus is on sustainability.

While reducing technology use may not be a realistic goal for most organizations, the philosophy behind "reduce" and "reuse" is similar. Organizations can invest some IT budget in high-quality refurbished (reused) equipment, and reduce the amount of new equipment they purchase. In this way, they can minimize the environmental impact of extraction and disposal at both ends of the IT asset life cycle.

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The Environmental Impact of Technology

The production of high-tech electronics requires raw materials such as oil, iron, gold, palladium, platinum, and copper. The extraction, transportation, and processing of these materials can produce greenhouse gas emissions and other pollution. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), reducing the need for these raw materials "can save natural resources, conserve energy and reduce pollution."

One option for companies seeking to be more environmentally conscious is to purchase refurbished computers rather than new. Refurbished electronics will both reduce the environmental impact of producing new technology and maximize the life cycle of existing computers

The TechSoup Refurbished Hardware Program

TechSoup has a nationally recognized Refurbished Hardware Program that has distributed over 160,000 refurbished devices since 2006.

Through the Refurbished Hardware Program, TechSoup partners with industry-leading computer refurbishers and IT asset disposition (ITAD) providers to provide environmentally friendly products from top manufacturers like Dell, HP, and Lenovo, all at low admin fees. Available products include desktop computers, laptops, LCD monitors, printers, tablets, and smartphones. The program reduces hazardous waste and greenhouse gas emissions and saves water and energy. Contrary to popular belief, refurbished devices extend the life of machines already built for long and intensive use, and ours run an up-to-date OEM operating system.


Giving Your E-Waste a New Life

Many organizations are concerned about what to do with the technology equipment they no longer need. Unfortunately not all "e-waste," or end-of-life electronic equipment, is currently recycled. In fact, the EPA estimated that 75 percent of electronic waste in the U.S. went into landfills or dump sites. When electronic waste is improperly disposed of, there can be serious consequences for human health as well as environmental pollution. Organizations concerned about the environmental impact of their used technology have great opportunities for both reuse and recycling.

You should work with an ITAD provider that has both refurbishing and responsible recycling programs. By doing this, organizations can be sure that their old equipment is being reused to support the community if possible, and then being recycled if it is no longer usable. The Alliance for Technology Refurbishing and Reuse (AFTRR) and U.S. EPA sites both link to resources and databases for finding organizations that have both refurbishing and responsible recycling certifications.

Additionally, organizations that purchase refurbished computers through TechSoup's Refurbished Hardware Program can also responsibly recycle them at the end of their life through TechSoup's Refurbished Computers End-of-Life TakeBack Program. TechSoup's refurbisher partners participate in this program to recycle the refurbished devices that they originally supplied. They securely wipe the data as part of the recycling process. This is a free service that is included with your TechSoup refurbished computer purchase.

Considering Your Environmental Impact

We invite you this Earth Day to think about your company's e-waste and how you can reduce your environmental impact through your computer turnover practices. Whether by purchasing refurbished computers or recycling your used devices with a reputable partner, you can make a big impact for your company, your community, and the planet.

Additional Resources

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