There Are Many Options for Aging ICT Gear

A MarketsandMarkets report says, "The global volume of e-waste generated is expected to reach 93.5 million tons in 2016 from 41.5 million tons in 2011 at a CAGR of 17.6% from 2011 to 2016." Three strategies for dealing with an organization's aging ICT gear are scrap, external reuse, and internal reuse. Internal reuse offers a growing number of increasingly sophisticated options while external reuse is revealing some unintended consequences. Reuse options are growing for home devices, as well.


Some gear offers no other alternative than scraping it. This can be done through a responsible third pard following globally recognized processes. There are competing approaches in the United States and in some other countries; pick one and go with it.

External Reuse

Non-profits dedicated to this mission range from UK's Computer Aid, which places refurbished equipment in developing countries, to local organizations that do the same for schools and other community groups. Disposing of equipment through commercial outlets is also an option. The global refurbished IT market was valued at $289 billion in 2011.

Encouraging re-use by offering money for e-devices can have an unintended consequence. The Washington Post reported in March 2013, "Drop a used smartphone in any of the 13 ATM-like kiosks at shopping malls around the Washington region and, within minutes, the machine will spit out as much as a few hundred dollars. The process is so simple that local police fear these ecoATMs are fueling one of the nation’s most pervasive criminal trends — cellphone theft. The kiosks have become a particular thorn for police in the District, where 40 percent of all forced robberies last year involved a cellphone, the highest percentage in the nation...The stolen smartphone market is thriving largely due to an unregulated trade that spans the globe, authorities say. Used Apple devices are in strong demand overseas, where an iPhone 5 can sell for $500 or more. (It costs as little as $200 in the United States, because it is subsidized by cellular carriers.) Sales of used smartphones are expected to reach $5 billion by 2015, according to Gazelle, a Boston firm that offers money for smartphones online."

Internal Reuse - Personal

The Wall Street Journal detailed cleaver ideas for reusing older smart devices in an August 2016 article: security camera, international travel phone, alarm clock, remote control, picture frame, car TV, and kitchen helper. These reuses are enabled by free or inexpensive apps. (Click on the "personal" tag, above, to learn more about Green ICT for individuals.)

Internal Reuse - Enterprise

Sweating assets makes sure that we use our gear as long as possible before moving it to scrap or external reuse.

The decision process for organizations can require a bit of sophistication. An enterprise concerned about lifecycle CO2e emissions might discover that it is better to sweat older laptops while replacing older servers because the ratios of embodied to usage CO2e are inverse for the two asset classes.

Slower gear is often more energy efficient gear, as is the case with storage. Older storage might be reallocated to data with a low usage frequency, freeing up existing high-performance storage to meet new needs.

A very sophisticated approach has large organizations integrate reuse into their supply chain management. A vendor of such services, Trade Wings, offers a case study about a global telecommunications equipment and services company. The client's "repair volumes have decreased by as much as 80% in some repair centers…purchasing costs to support multi-vendor service needs have been reduced by more than 20%. …reuse has greatly reduced the leakage of that material into the secondary market by drying up its availability to competitors. Overall, the client has realized a savings of nearly $10 million in the first year of the implementation."