Ethical, Responsible Collection of E-waste: Safelite Does Serious Good
Donating to a good cause is typically assumed to be a good thing, but when it comes to disposed electronics, you need to be careful. The unfortunate truth is that a lot of harm can be done if it’s not done correctly, and doing it the right way takes a little more effort and due diligence than does donating shoes or clothes or canned goods. If shoes or clothes or canned goods end up in the wrong place, although they aren’t where you thought they were going, they’re not likely to do any harm. Not so electronic waste. Too often, entities promising to do the right thing don’t, as evidenced by fake recyclers in well-documented instances. To ensure electronics don’t end up in Ghana or China, organizations need to use e-Stewards Certified Recyclers.
With estimations that there are some 50 billion devices on the planet, chances are that most of us have some we aren’t using – either because they don’t work or because the next best thing came along and they got shoved aside without a lot of thought. Chances are too that we know enough to not simply throw them in the trash – either because we’re aware that they contain toxic materials that will poison the land and water if sent to a landfill, or emit toxic gases if burned, or we know deep down that they could be useful to someone else. Chances are they’re just sitting around.
Astute employers, understanding that fundamentally folks really do want to get rid of this stuff but basically don’t know how, use collection events to help employees rid themselves of idle technology and come together to do good in the world. Many organizations use a collection event to celebrate Earth Day, but building awareness around environmental responsibility needs to happen more than once a year. And the question remains, where does all the e-waste go once it’s collected. Redemtech’s Bart Porter’s blog sheds light.
One example of an exemplar employer is Safelite, whose Serious Good Collection Event today is a great example of doing good for people and the planet. Aligning well with Safelite’s Corporate Responsibility commitment to helping the environment and people, computers from today’s collection will be processed, repaired, Microsoft Authorized Refurbished and provisioned with new software by Safelite’s partner, Redemtech. Through Redemtech, these computers will find their way into new homes built by Habitat for Humanity, a Serious Good partner. Together, Safelite, Redemtech and Habitat for Humanity are actively trying to bridge the digital divide, providing new Habitat homeowners the equipment they need to be engaged citizens. Students can do their homework at home without having to go out at night to wait for a turn to use the computer at the library. Not having a computer at home means children often fall farther and farther behind, not developing the skills needed to succeed in school and in the workforce.
In considering electronics through the lens of sustainability, one of the biggest environmental wins comes from extending the life of electronic assets. By far, the biggest energy and resource consumption comes in the devices’ manufacturing stage. Taking used electronics and making them usable and useful to other people is seriously good for the environment and can mean a world of good to those who need them.