When was the last time you upgraded your phone? If you’re like most consumers, it was within the past 18 months. In the past, perhaps you would purchase a new TV and keep it until it flat-out stopped working. Now, there’s always a shinier, smarter version on the market. While it’s exciting to get the latest electronics, a problem lies with the recycling of the old gadgets, or lack thereof.
Electronic waste, or e-waste, consists of discarded electronic devices like computers, TVs, phones, servers, peripherals, and other digital products. The amount of global e-waste in 2016 alone was nearly 60 million tons. Of this amount, only around 12% was recycled. When electronics are properly recycled, their components can be re-purposed for future use and remain out of the pollution flow, but more often than not, e-waste is thrown into landfills. This causes hazardous materials like mercury and lead to seep into groundwater reservoirs, and eventually make their way into rivers, lakes, and oceans, wreaking havoc on the planet and its inhabitants.
For healthcare providers, there’s another factor to consider when recycling your electronics—HIPAA, which requires you to follow certain guidelines when disposing of computer hard drives containing electronic Protected Health Information (ePHI). Essentially, when you dispose of any electronic media which contains ePHI, you must make sure the data is completely wiped from the device.
As an IT provider for dental practices, Digital Technology Partners has always prioritized recycling electronics safely, with both the environment and HIPAA compliance in mind. Last year, we decided to do even more.
In 2018, Digital Technology Partners’ recycling division, Work4Eli, was born. Work4Eli is the brainchild of DTP owner and special needs parent, Jonathan Kendrick. Work4Eli was named in honor of Jonathan’s son, Elijah Kendrick, with the intent to one day create employment for Eli within the technology industry. Opportunities are limited for special needs adults across all industries, and only around 30% of special needs adults are employed.
A key goal of Work4Eli is to provide a safe resource for businesses, particularly dental practices, to recycle old electronics, such as computers, phone systems, networking equipment, and printers. These devices are broken down by special needs E-Waste Technicians. Device parts, such as metals and plastics, are separated and delivered to the appropriate refineries, such as CHaRM (The Center for Hard to Recycle Materials), who re-purposes plastics into Atlanta park benches, for instance. Digital Technology Partners ensures hard drives are thoroughly destroyed through degaussing (which involves the application of a strong magnetic field to erase the data), and a Certificate of Destruction is provided. Work4Eli has a 0% landfill policy.
In addition to creating jobs for special needs adults and combating the global e-waste epidemic, Work4Eli closes the loop for Digital Technology Partners’ clients; DTP’s customers now benefit from a complete in-house hardware lifecycle—DTP handles clients’ equipment sales, ongoing support, and secure electronics recycling.
Work4Eli is not a non-profit, but rather, a self-sustained department. Work4Eli charges a small fee for equipment pickups, and any equipment collected in working condition is sold to bring in additional funds. All revenue is funded directly back into the department to provide wages for special needs adults.
While DTP clients get excited about new computer equipment, we get just as excited about their old devices! In just over a year, Work4Eli has created jobs for three special needs adults, who have recycled 50,000 pounds of e-waste.
Digital Technology Partners offers e-waste pickups to our clients as well as other businesses throughout the Metro Atlanta area. Should you find yourself in need of a recycling center near you, Keep America Beautiful is a great resource for finding e-waste drop-off centers across the United States.
To learn more about Work4Eli, or to schedule an equipment pickup, visit dtpartners.com/work4eli.