Relocating your plant or business is a huge job. It takes months (even years sometimes) to plan a plant or business relocation, It involves everyone from real estate agents to the heavy transport service that will be responsible for your move.
Much like homeowners changing locations, businesses can take this time to pare down and dispose of unused equipment. Often, that unused equipment is categorized as “e-waste.” 2.9 million households in Canada reported having at least one cell phone that wasn’t being used anymore. 24% of Canadian households had at least one computer they were no longer using: That’s 3.4 million households. If that’s true for the average person, imagine the kind of e-waste large businesses accumulate.
Not only is e-waste that’s been improperly disposed of bad for the environment, it’s also incredibly wasteful. Cliff Hacking of the Electronic Products Recycling Association (EPRA) told Global News, “We need to do our part to responsibly manage end of life electronics because they contain valuable materials and resources that can be recaptured and repurposed in the circular economy.”
Disposing of (and recycling) electronic waste serves several important purposes: preservation of the earth’s resources, harm reduction by keeping dangerous toxins out of landfills and lowering cost by limiting how much your company needs to move. Making your move more efficient is a big money saver.
Tips For Disposing E-Waste Properly
- It’s essential to go through all the electronics that have been stored (and examine those that are currently being used). Determine what needs to be disposed of and divide these into categories:
- Continue to use
- If you choose to donate or recycle, remember to clear all the electronic memories, hard drives, and reset what you can to the factory settings.
- Find a reliable and responsible recycling method. Most cities and municipalities only pick up electronic waste for households and some small business owners; large companies must find their disposal method. However, some city transfer sites accept electronic waste free of charge.
- Many companies will pick up your electronic waste for free and are easy to find by searching “free e-waste pick up.”
- If you want to step up your corporate stewardship a notch or two, consider some of these programs:
- Free Geek Toronto: This group takes a wide variety of e-waste for reuse, refurbishing, and recycling. They’ll accept items that aren’t quite dead yet, fix them up, then sell them.
- Recycle My Cell: A free recycling program for Canada’s mobile devices and accessories. They offer drop-off locations, and businesses or organizations can apply to be drop-off locations.
- Green4Good: Larger organizations benefit from this group’s help to responsibly retire e-waste. The money is then donated and refurbished tech is given to charities.
It’s essential to understand the necessity behind recycling e-waste. The materials used in our electronics are toxic in their raw forms. When they’re not recycled correctly, those toxins leach into the groundwater and ultimately harm the humans and animals living on this planet. According to the Electronics TakeBack Coalition the following toxins can significantly impact human health:
- Lead: The health effects of lead are well known; lead exposure can cause brain damage in children and has already been banned from many consumer products.
- Mercury: Mercury is toxic in very low doses and causes brain and kidney damage. It can be passed on through breast milk; just .07 grams of mercury can contaminate almost nine hectares of a lake, making the fish inedible.
- Cadmium: Cadmium accumulates in the human body and poisons the kidneys.
- BFRs: Brominated flame retardants (BFRs) may seriously affect hormonal functions critical for normal development. A recent study of dust on computers in workplaces and homes found BFRs in every sample taken. One group of BFRs, PBDEs, has been found in alarming rates breast milk in Sweden and the U.S. PBDEs are otherwise known as polybrominated diphenyl ethers.
According to the Ontario Electronic Stewardship, nearly 90% of electronic equipment can be reused. However, it’s one of the fastest-growing contributors to an already overtaxed solid waste system. Being a good corporate citizen and the environmental champion is something businesses can be proud of, and it’s certainly something that establishes trust with customers who are increasingly concerned with sustainability.
Neilsen’s Insights blog states that “Generation Z” (people aged 15-20) “are willing to pay more for products and services that come from companies who are committed to positive social and environmental impact… up from 55% in 2014 to 72% in 2015.”
Understanding that consumers are watching, applauding, and rewarding businesses that make the effort to protect the environment is key to 21st-century business practices and success. It’s truly a win-win. Your company can do more by:
- Recycling your e-waste
- Being an active partner in how your e-waste is managed (join organizations such as Ontario Electronic Stewardship)
- Making sustainability a priority across the business and advocating for the industry regulations
Handling E-Waste When Moving
As you prepare for your big move, packing up the equipment, changing your online address, and printing new business cards, take stock of all your e-waste. Use the tips above and ensure that it doesn’t occupy valuable space on the truck and then the storeroom at your new property.