The business community has a role to play in recycling

ewaste recycling

Used electronics need to be recycled so they do not pose risk to the environment.


A well known fact: unwanted electronics most often get discarded and end up in landfills.
A second known fact: Because these items contain metals that can be reused to make new products, there’s been a major push for years to get these devices recycled instead.

There’s been a push to get consumers to recycle their old smart phone, laptops, iPhone or other device when they’re no longer useful, rather than toss it in the trash, where environmental issues comes up.

But there’s also a role here for the recycling of corporate e-waste.

Office waste refers to equipment used in offices – from fax machines to computers to furniture – that gets replaced, often in large quantities at one time, and goes into landfills.

Until now, a lot of people haven’t thought much about corporate waste. But it’s starting to become a bigger conversation among environmentalists, those in the recycling industry, and the business community as well.

The reason this issue is generating interest and attention is the same reason e-waste became an issue years ago: the sheer volume of it rising in landfills. Companies are not exploring the option of recycling corporate waste and are simply throwing it out in bulk; it’s astonishing how much office furniture is being wasted.
The Environmental Protection Agency has estimated that up to 8.5 million tons of used office assets end up in landfills each year.

That’s an interesting figure, considering that the Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturer’s Association has reported that about $10.2 billion in commercial furniture and equipment gets manufactured, sold and then used in offices across the nation each year. Think about how much of that will be replaced in the coming years.

That’s an extraordinary amount of office equipment and furniture, and keeping all of it out of landfills would be a considerable move, particularly the equipment that contains precious metals that are ideal for recycling and reuse.

Examples include a complete office cubicle, which contains ferrous metals and plastic, and many office chairs as well. Computers, laptops, company cell phones, fax machines, and printers all fit into this category, too.

What’s needed are programs to offer companies and corporations the option of diverting their used equipment and furniture to recycling firms like GLE Scrap Metal. A company like GLE Scrap can work with your organization to remove unwanted office equipment and help determine what can be recycled for the metals contained within them.

It’s a much better alternative than dumping all of it in community landfills.

Corporations can change the way they deal with excess office furniture, equipment, and supplies, and responsibly keep it out of landfills.

A good example is that companies should avoid what often becomes the easiest option, which is liquidation – because that means what the company is getting rid of most often ends up in a landfill. Recycling that office equipment, electronics, and furniture allows all of us to maintain assets that can be given new life, when the precious metals within them are removed. This is the power that companies have to help make the world greener – one electronic device, office chair, printer and toner cartridge at a time.

Granted, most companies that rely on this kind of equipment are not in the business of promoting environmental policies. But there are practices and policies they can adopt that impact the environment in a very positive way, and that includes recycling. It’s a smart, common sense approach to replacing the items in your office that have outlived their usefulness and need to be replaced, and doing so in a responsible way.

If businesses can set up plastic bins to recycle office paper, for example, there’s no reason not to go the extra step and arrange a simple system to recycle aging electronics, computers, printer, fax machines and other office items.

And if you really want to take it to another level — during the next step, when buying new office equipment to replace the old, find ones that are energy efficient. Look for items that have the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Star certification, since it’s been estimated that using an Energy Star-certified computer, monitor or printer can save your business hundreds of dollars in electricity costs over the lifespan of those products.

The amount of corporate waste is likely to keep growing as the life span of aging business equipment gets shorter and shorter, and companies continue to replace this equipment quite frequently. The same is true with everything from office chairs to cubicles – which often put companies in the position of wanting to get rid of a large batch of items at once.

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About Michael W Freeman

Michael W. Freeman is a veteran journalist, playwright and author. Born and raised in Fall River, Massachusetts, he has lived in Orlando since 2002. Michael has worked for some of Florida's largest newspapers, including The Orlando Sentinel. His original plays have draw strong audiences at the Orlando Fringe Festival. He is the author of the novels "Bloody Rabbit" and "Koby's New Home."

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