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How is technology reused or recycled in large organizations?

With the constant rush for the next upgrade in technology, my concern is that used technology is being simply thrown away when it can be reused or repurposed in new ways.
#tech #sustainability


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Desiree’s Answer

Hi Mei -- great question! While some people are keen to get the next new device, companies also want to get the most value out of the hardware they purchase. It's been my experience working with large organizations that they implement hardware refresh policies to control for this, which requires employees to use their devices for 2 to 3 years before getting something new.

Even then, a 3 year old laptop may still be useful. Some clever applications for used hardware that I've seen at large companies:

  • loaner laptops - if an employee forgets their laptop, or needs to borrow one while their current one is repaired
  • refurbished laptops - lightly used laptops are reconditioned and reissued to certain employees
  • kiosks - devices used for conference booths or lobby/guest registration
  • donations - laptops are refurbished and donated to schools or other non-profit organizations
  • spare parts - some brands of laptop can be used to provide replacement parts for repair

Manufacturers help reduce technology waste by recycling devices when new ones are purchased. The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment directive established guidelines for companies to support e-waste recycling. Retailers like the Google Store and Apple support device recycling.

Desiree recommends the following next steps:

review e-waste recycling programs for your favorite device
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thank you! Mei Wei K.

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John’s Answer

Howdy Mei! Large companies often partner with a company like HPE to recover, reuse where possible, and recycle their tech assets. Here's an overview video of our programs: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TMo2RgzDHHY


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pat’s Answer

My company is very involved in helping start-ups find new ways to harvest and recyle ocean plastics. we also look for new ways to recyle computer components. for instance reuse of gold in computers for jewlry and design. we also reuse old plastics and remold those into computer cases for laptops.

pat recommends the following next steps:

look at dell.com coporate social responsibility, or youtube dell.com channel
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Abbey’s Answer

Great question! These days, technology is a necessary part of most organizations, no matter what their primary business is. I find this relationship to technology to be a major tell of what the company does with their technology when they're "done" with it.

Some internet service providers, cellular providers, or cloud service providers, for example, would want to "sweat" their assets, getting as much value out of their useful life as possible. This especially applies to the network equipment needed to run their business.

Then there's the whole list of "other" industries--stadiums, sports, fashion, textiles, consumer packaged goods like food or anything else you probably interact with on a daily basis--they need technology to run their business in 2019, but it's not part of the product or service they sell to their customers. These companies might be more open to reselling or reusing technology--either buying new and reselling, or buying used equipment in the first place. It's a great way to save money and it helps the world reduce our dependence on some of the most critical raw materials in electronics, which are often scarce.

Abbey recommends the following next steps:

Watch the story of stuff https://storyofstuff.org/
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Pick your favorite brand and read their corporate social responsibility report (also known as esg report, csr report, environmental report, etc.) Start with Nike: https://purpose.nike.com/
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