“By working with Remploy e-cycle, business organisations could not only save themselves money, they can start to realise some additional value from their equipment by selling it on. They can also enhance their corporate images by being seen to donate computers to a worthy cause at the same time as showing they have respect for the environment.”
That’s the message from Tony Stroud, general manager for Remploy e-cycle.
Remploy is the UK's top provider of employment services for disabled people. Last year it supported in work or into work more than 10,000 people with a range of physical, sensory and mental disabilities.
The company partners with some of the country’s biggest companies to find jobs for disabled people, including BT, Asda, Christian Salvesen, Tesco and B&Q.
It employs more than 5,000 disabled people in its own manufacturing and services businesses and last year its employment services division found more than 5,200 jobs for disabled people in mainstream employment.
Remploy is the country’s leading supplier of school furniture, makes chemical, biological and nuclear protection suits for police and military in Britain and overseas, and operates CCTV in more than 50 towns and cities. It is a non-departmental public body and last year received a government grant of £119m.
e-cycle is one of Remploy’s businesses and specialises in refurbishing and recycling end-of-life IT and telecommunications equipment on behalf of public sector and private sector clients across the UK.
It is employed by companies such as the DWP, EDS, Dixons Store Group, to achieve a better return on investment from redundant IT equipment as well as broader social and environmental objectives that help to enhance their reputations.
Businesses have a duty to dispose of end-of-life IT equipment responsibly and the introduction of the EU’s new Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive – which aims to minimise the environmental impact of electrical and electronic equipment by increasing re-use and recycling, and reducing the amount going to landfill – has caused even more concern.
Lowering end-of-life IT costs
While many companies understandably focus on making sure their computer systems are as up to date as possible, Remploy e-cycle believes that alternatives to the often high costs associated with disposing of this equipment in compliance with the law are regularly overlooked.
Stroud says: “Most businesses looking to dispose of redundant computer equipment believe they only have a few limited, and costly, options available to them. Using companies such as Remploy e-cycle helps organisations to comply with all the appropriate legislation but brings the added benefit of generating a new lucrative revenue stream.”
e-cycle specialises in taking IT equipment that has reached the end of its working life and refurbishing it to a standard that allows it to be re-deployed within the organisation, re-sold or donated to a good cause.
Stroud said: “Under the recommendations of the National Audit Office’s recent report on IT lifecycles, leading commercial organisations are typically disposing of their equipment every three years. This means there are thousands of businesses across the UK that are seemingly paying to get rid of equipment that doesn’t necessarily need to be disposed of and needlessly committing it to landfill."
“What’s more many larger businesses are no doubt paying a professional waste disposal service to remove the equipment in line with legislation while the majority of smaller businesses are probably incurring costs by taking equipment to a local waste and recycling centre for disposal.”
The security angle
Another issue that disposing of IT equipment raises is that of security. Research carried out in 2004 for e-cycle has highlighted the poor quality of most companies’ data security measures with more than three-quarters of the 350 businesses questioned – including many of the UK’s leading financial organisations – admitting they had sold or given away computers, and of these, less than a quarter (23 percent) had cleansed the data sufficiently to make them irrecoverable. Just over a third (38 percent) had merely reformatted the drives while 22 percent overwrote them once.
Tony Stroud says: “Simply reformatting or overwriting data once or twice will still allow much of the data to be recovered. It is admirable that some companies are making redundant equipment available for re-use, but in the overwhelming majority of cases, they are not rendering the data irrecoverable.
“Every business exploring this route should seek assurance that their confidential data will be totally erased in the refurbishment process. They should also check that the company in question is a recognised IT refurbisher holding the Microsoft Authorised Refurbisher (MAR) status.”
Remploy e-cycle – which is an approved MAR – guarantees that every computer it refurbishes is completely erased of data by using specialised BLANCCO software which has been approved for both UK government and US Federal Government data cleansing.
Remploy's own name sums up what it does admirable; re-employ. If older and unwanted IT kits can be collected and re-furbished cost-effectively and then put to good use it fulfills the re-use part of the green 3-way mantra: re-use; reduce; recycle, to a T.