As part of our growing sustainability efforts, Woodard & Curran has secured a new e-waste recycling partnership with Maine-based give IT. get IT. A combination e-waste recycling and digital inclusion nonprofit, give IT. get IT. assists businesses in responsibly dealing with unwanted devices and helps individuals and families obtain personal computers and achieve valuable digital competencies.
How does e-waste fit into our sustainability program?
E-waste is a blanket term for discarded electronic devices and components. Beyond Woodard & Curran’s overall commitment to waste reduction, e-waste disposal carries unique and substantial environmental and social ramifications.
Old computers, cell phones, and monitors can do more harm than just filling up landfills. They contain an array of rare and finite materials, such as gold, copper, and rare earth metals, that can and should be incorporated into a circular economy. E-waste also contains toxic substances, such as heavy metals and flame retardants; when they are improperly discarded human and environmental exposure can result. Often, in lieu of landfills in the United States, irresponsible domestic recyclers send e-waste overseas to unregulated processing yards, where the work of separating valuable materials for resale exposes workers to significant health and safety risks.
What sets give IT. get IT. apart from other recyclers?
The give IT. get IT. program gives a second life to surplus technology. Unlike traditional e-waste recyclers, the organization refurbishes devices for use by people who would otherwise not be able to afford a personal computer. In the early 2000s, founders Chris and Jodi Martin recognized a growing need for access to technology as well as basic tech skills. When Chris unexpectedly lost his job, he decided to commit himself to this mission. He purchased a copy of Nonprofits for Dummies and set about building his own digital inclusion nonprofit.
While he started out exclusively dealing with one-off device donations, Chris eventually recognized that by incorporating e-waste recycling, he could help solve a growing problem for businesses and guarantee a steady stream of donated devices. Initially run as a separate nonprofit, he later merged the two organizations to form give IT. get IT.
In 2022, give IT. get IT. accepted 42,126 devices, 11,019 of which were refurbished either for digital inclusion efforts or the secondary market. While PCs are central to the organization’s mission to provide low- and no-cost computers to people who need them, the organization also receives other business machines, such as printers, phones, and copiers. When these items are refurbished, give IT. get IT. sells them on eBay to help cover its operating expenses.
Devices that can’t be refurbished are recycled, with valuable components stripped safely and sustainably stateside. The organization employs a near-zero-waste approach to the process — typically the only component Chris and his team have not found a downstream recycler for is the rubber casing from power cords.
While responsible disposal practices were a key consideration for partnering with give IT. get IT., the organization offers additional conveniences that free up Woodard & Curran’s IS staff to focus on supporting our operations instead of monitoring the whereabouts of outdated hardware. The organization guarantees secure data destruction that includes good old-fashioned hard drive shredding as well as detailed, auditable reports that track the fate of devices and components by serial number.