Recycling for philanthropy: how CIOs can give something back

Computer Chip and Circuit BoardRapid advances in software mean that hardware is struggling to keep up. Therefore, we all have to replace company IT equipment increasingly often.

In the US alone, some 20 million PCs are disposed of each year. Aside from clogging landfill, e-waste is often environmentally damaging, because it contains hazardous materials. For example, a PC may contain around 2kg of lead. That’s 10 times more than a car.

Options include professional waste disposal or returning the products to the manufacturers, who now often run their own recycling schemes.  Dell, for example, covers the cost of picking up and recycling obsolete equipment.

But CIOs also have the opportunity to use the disposal of surplus IT equipment as an opportunity for philanthropy.

A PC or BlackBerry might be outdated for your company’s purposes, but it could still have plenty of use for someone else. A number of charities will collect electronic equipment and arrange for re-use, perhaps following a bit of refurbishment.

In addition to corporate social responsibility, one added incentive is a tax deduction for charitable giving.

Of course, should you decide to donate devices, make sure you clear all company and personal data before handing them over. Here are a few other things to keep in mind:

  • Align your choice with your company’s CSR strategy. Donating electronic equipment is a good opportunity for the CIO to showcase their knowledge of CSR and demonstrate how they are aligning IT with broader business priorities. So find out where your company is focusing its CSR efforts and tie in your giving accordingly.
  • Direct donation might not be the best option. It might be tempting to arrange your own donation as part of your company’s CSR initiatives. This can work in some cases, but the drawback is that the equipment you are donating might not be the best fit for the recipients you have in mind. Charities that specialize in this area and work across a large number of recipient organizations are more likely to find a good match.
  • Make sure the charity is compliant on disposal. You don’t want your old equipment ending up as environmentally damaging e-waste elsewhere. So make sure the charity has a strategy for waste management for the equipment once it finally does become obsolete, and that they are compliant with regulations. In Europe, the EU’s Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive requires a company to keep proof that its equipment was treated and disposed of in an environmentally sound way. In the US, most states now have regulations that govern the disposal of electronics.

There are a range of options for charitable donation, covering both disadvantaged groups in the developed world and emerging markets. So start donating!


One thought on “Recycling for philanthropy: how CIOs can give something back

  1. As soon as I read this, it came to my mind the project I am running for InfoSec under Chris Kostick and Daniel Kenney. This project is on its way to be delivered (expected before March) and it’s about safe data disposal, including certified wipes of media. This standard EY global tool will permit any Dept. to have Computers wiped according to NIST/DoD specs thus releasing them out safely and with confidence. This will help to reduce HDD destruction in reusing this HW for many other purposes. Comms Team will send out info to Tech Depts. involved with HW disposal already on Feb 2015.

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