I am talking garbage. Not many people will admit to that. But I like to talk garbage – and more importantly, how to avoid it.
RDC, a subsidiary of Arrow Electronics and part of Arrow’s Value Recovery business, was awarded the top (five star) rating by letsrecycle.com for its efforts in reducing waste sent to landfills. Established in 2010, and now with over 500 members, letsrecycle.com’s Investors in Zero Waste is an ongoing recognition scheme in the UK that rewards the innovation and commitment of businesses, public authorities and third sector organisations that are striving to eliminate waste.
The awards ceremony on 8th December, hosted by the BBC’s political correspondent Ben Wright, saw more than 40 businesses recognised for their progress towards Zero Waste to Landfill.
Why be concerned by garbage? In short, we’re saving the world…
In the 1990s, scientists warned of the risks to human health and the natural environment from hazardous materials used in electrical and electronic equipment when disposed of in a landfill.
The European Union acted to tackle the growing problem with the Directive on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE). Restricting use of potentially hazardous materials was the goal of the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive, focusing on lead, cadmium, polybrominated biphenyls (used in flame retardants) and hexavalent chromium – see Julia Roberts’ Oscar-winning performance in the film ‘Erin Brockovich’, based on real-life pollution and the death and illness it caused.
RDC saw leading environmental performance as a benefit to business and our community. We adopted a policy of anticipating and, where feasible, exceeding compliance with all waste and environmental regulation.
In 2000, some 48% by weight of waste IT produced by RDC was disposed of in a landfill, mostly plastic, glass and composite components. Easy-to-access metals were recycled by automobile shredders.
Over the next few years we researched recyclers who had the technology to recycle plastics, glass and mixed metal components. Transferring IT waste to audited and approved recyclers avoided landfill costs that were set to rise as the UK Government imposed a deterrent ‘Landfill Tax’. Packaging waste was also targeted. RDC employees sorted and segregated packaging into discrete waste streams to aid recycling, investing in balers to assist. Un-recyclable waste was turned into fuel for energy plants.
In October 2010, RDC achieved its goal of zero waste – no IT or packaging waste was disposed of in a landfill. Significant savings ensued through avoiding rising costs for disposal of waste in landfills.
As one of the leading IT asset disposition companies in the world, Arrow is proud to have demonstrated that computer reuse can be carried out in a secure and environmentally responsible way, proving green business can be good business.
Does your organization have goals to reduce waste? Write me and tell me about it.
Gary Griffiths manages global partner compliance for Arrow Electronics, ensuring that Arrow and its global partners comply with local and international laws, regulations, and best practices. A Chartered Environmentalist and a Chartered Waste Manager with more than two decades’ experience, Gary has expertise in data security and compliance.
Electronic Wastes and MSW Landfill Pollution of Groundwater, G. Fred Lee, PhD, PE, BCEE, and Anne Jones-Lee, PhD; G. Fred Lee & Associates, September 2009