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Preventing Electronic Waste in the Workplace

Frank CuffaroElectronic waste, also known as e-waste, refers to the electronics that are no longer needed, set aside and ignored, as well as the electronics that are disposed improperly. With today’s continually evolving technology, this is a common occurrence in the workplace, especially one that operates with company provided cell phones, desktops and laptops. In order to prevent this, the company can: reduce, reuse, recycle, and reevaluate. These four areas are made up of different tasks, some to be fulfilled by upper management and some that every employee can take part in.

E-waste is more than being wasteful with resources and money, it’s negatively impacting the environment everyday. The impact is coming from both landfill buildup and energy usage.

Reduce:

Reducing electronics in the workplace is possible. While most office workplaces find it best for everyone to have their own desktop or laptop, part time employees may be able to share. If you have more than one part-time employee, try to create the schedule so that the desk can be shared. This way, the computer is being used just as much as any other computer in the room and an unused one isn’t going to waste.

Another way to reduce is by having employees bring in laptops from home. For those who are comfortable working on their own laptop and feel as though it’s in good enough shape, this can be another solve. If you don’t get enough volunteers to do so, you can create a rotation schedule.

A final suggestion is to only purchase what is needed. It’s beneficial to have an extra laptop or cell phone in case an issue comes up, but other than that, it’s important to not overdo it. An example is employee cell phones. If it’s not crucial for every employee to have one, then limit it to only the employees it is crucial for. Ask yourself, who is making and taking the phone calls every day? Who doesn’t have access to the office phone when a phone is needed? The same thought process can go for iPads and tablet-like devices. Answering these can help you reduce.

Reuse:

If possible, reuse your electronics. If a laptop is no longer needed by an employee, consider other uses. The laptop can be used as extra assistance in a presentation or as a meeting laptop that is easily brought back and forth to meetings. Rather than letting it go to waste and neglecting its maintenance and updates, find another function and put it to use.

For electronics that become outdated and hard to use, there may be recycling options available, but there are also other uses that can be tried if not. For cell phones or iPads, you can use them as a security webcam, as an emergency device or as a phone for games in the breakroom. Whatever the use, refrain from putting them into the garbage. When electronics make their way into landfills, the elements are not broken down properly. This means, the reusable metals are going to waste and toxic gasses are contaminating the air and potentially harming people nearby.

Recycle:

Recycling can be done in various ways. You can go through a trade in company and earn cash for your old devices or you can look into donating. Whether you choose your local library’s cell phone donation box or a non profit organization, it will be getting used by somebody who needs it.

Recycling is also beneficial for managing our environment’s consumption of energy. When one person invests in a used one or receives one through donation, that’s one less cell phone that needs to be processed with our environment’s energy. It also helps us to preserve materials. Cell phones are made up of precious metals such as copper, gold, palladium, and platinum. The demand for these metals is becoming higher and higher as the popularity of mobile devices, as well as the obsession of having the latest, increases.

Reevaluate:

Last but not least, reevaluate wherever necessary. This includes determining what each electronic device is being used for in the workplace, as well as determining what can be done to preserve its lifespan. Whether it’s undergoing the updates when prompted or taking preventative measures with the batteries, every one of these aspects play a role in electronic waste.

During this reevaluation, you may notice you don’t need the multiple devices you’re looking to get. Instead, you may figure out that there’s one device that can fulfill all of your needs. Small finds like this can make a large difference.

Not only is preventing electronic waste in the workplace beneficial for the environment, it’s beneficial for workplace culture. Incorporate this way of thinking into the workplace culture by making it a part of your corporate social responsibility, also referred to as CSR.

Author Bio: Frank Cuffaro is the president and co-founder of GoodCellas.

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