It Takes a Village

Remember the first time your corporate IT department gave you your first computer workstation? It was a great feeling, and one that has been shared by millions of corporate brethren over the past decade.

Throughout the 1990’s, corporations across the U.S. handed out laptop and desktop systems to nearly every employee. We cringe when we think back to a time when our company’s salespeople weren’t able to log on from their hotel at night or even place an order electronically from a client’s office.

Now companies pass out computer hardware like grandma gives out Halloween candy. However, the “end-of-life issues” of Halloween candy are easy to swallow, end-of-life issues for computer hardware aren’t. What do you do with computers when they die?

Some assertive and responsible leaders within major corporations are readily recognizing the numerous risks involved with computer disposal and are taking action.

Surprisingly though, U.S. corporations have generally been slow in planning and implementing formal internal policies on how to dispose of or recycle their IT equipment, now commonly referred to as e-waste.

It is estimated by our own National Safety Council that, in 2005, there were more than 300 million obsolete computers in the U.S. Does your IT staff keep track of what happens to your e-waste once it is out of their possession? How many requests do you get for donations to churches, schools and even charities that want to deliver the outdated hardware to developing countries?

When these organizations run into technical problems and support is not readily available, the machines usually end up on the scrap heap, potentially becoming an environmental hazard. This also means they could be a corporate liability, with a potentially hefty price tag, for you.

Disposal Guidelines

By keeping the entire employee base well informed of the need and requirement for proper computer disposal, you can actually create a rallying point for those with the most passion and diligence for avoiding any negative environmental impact.

Be proud to shout your organization’s initiative and achievements from the top of the next corporate newsletter. Local media outlets are often interested in promoting the efforts of proud environmental stewards.

Next, what about the possibility of a security breach? We work so diligently to keep our data protected while our employees are using the systems, so why in the world should we ignore security after we are done with them?