There’s a myth out there that the pandemic is slowing action on critical environmental issues. This couldn’t be further from the truth, as companies everywhere are taking a fresh look at the way they do business, including their electronic waste.
Randi Kruse, Sim’s Director of Sustainability, recently sold a smart phone she wasn’t using online. “It’s a bit of a secret that this market exists,” says Randi, who is Vancouver-based and joined Sim a year ago. “We need to normalize the idea that buying and selling used electronic equipment is the same as buying and selling used cars.”
Randi was inspired early in her career working with famed Canadian environmentalist David Suzuki, and she says that electronic waste is a huge problem. The heavy metals and chemicals found in discarded material like old batteries and cell phones can leach into groundwater if they aren’t disposed of properly. Pollutants from e-waste can also build up in our bodies and make us sick.
Randi encourages companies to host electronic waste recycling programs, just like the one at Sim. Partnering with the Electronic Recycling Association (ERA), employees are able to use a contactless drop off for their unwanted household materials. Electronic waste requires specialized recycling at certified depots, which can be a barrier for some people. Reuse and recycling solutions do exist, and providing easy access is key – but so too is producing less electronic waste in the first place.
“We need to break this cycle of constantly feeling the need to buy new,” she said.
At a corporate level, Sim upgrades desktops with hard drives to extend their functionality, purchases refurbished equipment rather than buying new, and partners with credible organizations that both recycle broken equipment and donate materials when possible.
“Any equipment that is refurbished is better for the earth than something that is new,” says Randi. “During my time with David Suzuki, he always reminded me that human beings have remained successful as a species not because they are the strongest or the fastest, but because of their ability to look ahead, predict danger and change their behavior.”
The day has arrived when we can clearly see that continuous consumption is unsustainable in every way. Sim is actively working with industry stakeholders to advance regulations that help all companies take meaningful action on issues like electronic waste. Please get in touch if you have ideas about how we can collaborate.