Whilst larger nations may spring to mind, recent research by USwitch suggests that by 2024, the UK will become the world’s biggest contributor of e-waste. Despite the EU’s WEEE directive e-waste regulations, we currently generate the second-highest volume per capita, globally; 23.9 kg per person. ^ Norway, the largest producer, is only slightly ahead at 26kg, per person, yet the country has taken big steps to reduce this with a national take-back scheme. +
According to the latest figures from the UK government, our hunger for the latest tech meant that 505,445 tonnes of electronic and electrical equipment was officially collected by the UK’s Waste Electrical sector in 2019. A figure which will have only increased with our digitalisation.
It will be unsurprising to hear that since e-waste records began in 2008, the quantities of IT, telecoms electrical and electronic waste has grown, year-on-year. This did stabilise a little during the pandemic but as the world returned to normal, the upward trajectory continued.
Global e-waste increases by at least 2 million tonnes annually; the latest forecasts predict that the world’s total e-waste will reach 120 mT by 2050. ^^
Subsequently, this means that the quantity of toxic, hazardous materials and precious metals ending up in landfill due to improper disposal is also at an all-time high. Highlighting the importance of asset disposal by sustainable alternatives.
E-waste management best practices.
Leading IT asset disposal companies take a fully circular approach to environmentally friendly ITAD with zero-landfill policies to ensure that our business technology is as sustainable as possible.
More traditional data destruction services, such as data shredding or degaussing physically destroy data-bearing assets. However, through a systematic overwriting procedure, the advanced Blancco software also guarantees secure data erasure. This far more sustainable alternative meets the GDPR data destruction requirements and is approved by the National Cyber Security Centre. A full ITAD chain of custody is provided by the IT asset disposal accreditation certificate produced by the software for each asset.
At tier1, 70% of the redundant IT equipment we receive remains perfectly serviceable; they are not end-of-life IT assets at all.
Following data erasure using Blancco software, these devices can be either upgraded so they can be redeployed back into the client’s business. Alternatively, following the refurbishment, companies can choose to donate equipment to a charity or school or sell redundant IT assets via our online resale platform.
The remaining 30% of the assets received have reached the end of their usable life as a unit, but even so, this doesn’t mean the components have. These can be recycled, creating new devices and reducing carbon emissions from their manufacture.
The manufacturing and transportation of new devices accounts for 80%
of their total lifetime carbon emissions. (CO2e).
Even when those components cannot be reused directly, they can be sent for further processing. Take a circuit board for example, the gold contained within it can be extracted, and reused, again and again, preventing virgin mining for one of the earth’s most finite resources.
When recycling our technology, could ESG initiatives created by IT disposal services do more than simply drive sustainable IT practices? Can ethical, social impact programmes make a real difference, not only to the increasing e-waste mountain but also to people’s lives?
The tier1 Prison Programme.
In 2011, tier1 began working with charity partner, Antz Junction. Having spotted that the charity’s ‘Through the Gate’ programme was a great source of talent, we recruited three ex-offenders following their release from prison. This six-week programme is designed to help ex-offenders, which includes post-release support, mentoring, training and securing sustainable employment opportunities post-release.
In 2017, tier1 were approached by the Ministry of Justice and their partner, Atos IT Services, to help them dispose of over 100,000 legacy assets as part of their wider IT upgrade. tier1’s passionate belief in creating a social impact, the nature of the client’s work and the Antz Junction’s charity objectives, fitted perfectly, providing a light bulb moment for tier1 MD, Jonathan Rose.
In support of this, tier1 and Antz devised a prison workshop e-waste recycling programme that boosts confidence, teaches professional skills development, encourages personal development and crucially, provides training that will open more doors for work opportunities. With just a few months a state-of-the-art IT recycling facility had been created at category-C, HMP Hindley mirroring a real-life working environment.
Participants working at the tier1 IT recycling workshop develop an in-depth knowledge of the methods of e-waste management. The entire physical deconstruction process is incorporated into the scheme; from the larger, more straightforward processes to the multifaceted, intricate removal of more complex components. Inmates learn about the 16 different recycling waste streams and onward processing methods.
Objectives and benefits.
ESG e-waste recycling initiatives like the tier1 prison workshop, are not about financial return. Once the waste is recycled, the revenue generated is returned to Antz Junction, providing the funding for the programme in this circular approach.
The provision of the combined rehabilitation, training and mentoring scheme sees ex-offenders in training or long-term, sustainable employment and delivers a greater social impact to the wider community. The pathway to resettlement includes personalised support; this might include assistance with accommodation, benefits, digital connectivity, addiction or mental and physical health.
tier1 invite ex-offender applicants for all job opportunities; we currently have four full-time employees recruited through the programme. As an Antz employer, we ensure any necessary additional support is provided. Whilst people adjust to a very different lifestyle, this may be extra assistance to attend an interview, time off may be required for probation or mental wellbeing appointments.
Our wider organisational culture of acceptance dispels stigma and promotes inclusion, regardless of personal background. This understanding and support from the entire team is invaluable when it comes to the prevention of preventing recidivism and improving social mobility.
Approximately half of all crime is committed by people who have already been through the justice system, resulting in a substantial socio-economic price-tag – the cost of reoffending in England and Wales is currently
47% of UK prisoners have no qualifications. 13% have never had a job. Preconceptions continue to limit job offers after release, meaning that approximately half will return to the prison gate within 2 years, despite the fact that almost all, 97%, do not want to re-offend. **
To date, tier1’s responsible e-waste management prison initiative has maintained a 0% reoffending rate, generating £3.9 million in societal savings. *
The workshop prepares inmates for the type of workplace they can expect outside. Working 30-40 hours per week, participants learn practical technology expertise and develop other highly transferable skills including teamwork, accountability and a strong work ethic.
As adults, we learn differently, absorbing new information best when it’s relevant to our current circumstances, experiences and life goals; helping us take this new practical education into everyday life.
Within the first 12 years of the programme, having delivered over 28,360 hours of support, we’ve learned much ourselves – identifying further opportunities to enrich the programme so we can optimise its far-reaching impact.
Nationally, 47% of UK prisoners have no qualifications, however, within our programme, this figure is 70%. With this in mind, we’re developing a multiple accreditation programme; each 3-months in duration. Launching in Autumn 2023, the syllabuses will deliver certified IT Recycling, IT Repair and IT Refurbishment qualifications.
Whilst the key objectives of the initiative were to promote social mobility for ex-offenders and reduce reoffending rates, the programme has become far more than an ESG initiative for tier1. When it comes to the ITAD services e-waste reduction strategies, both the workshop and the ‘Through the Gate’ programme now play a vital role in our business operations – the workshop currently , extending the IT asset disposal services capacity.
As our organisations continue to digitise at pace and we regularly renew our redundant IT assets, our programme will expand in parallel, along with the consistent stream of e-waste.
We expect our social mobility and IT recycling initiative to grow and grow, expanding into other prisons at a larger scale. As it’s imperative to break the cycle early on in life, tier1 are keen to work with young offenders’ institutions, in particular.
Now in its tenth year, our innovative, IT recycling and mentoring initiative provides fairer recruitment, progressive career opportunities, personal support and much-needed new starts. As a partnership, it is our ultimate aim is to achieve £5 million in societal savings by 2027.
The percentage of ex-offenders securing employment (57%) is more than twice the national average (26.5%). By providing the right support, we can make the world a better place, reducing e-waste whilst empowering ex-offenders to reintegrate, make a genuine contribution to society and achieve long-term, personal success.
* (GMCA cost-based analysis) ^ Uswitch (Estimates following analysis of the Global E-waste monitor 2020), + Circular, ** UK Government, ^^ United Nations.
With social impact at the very core of the business, tier1 Group have always endeavoured to deliver more than sustainable IT asset disposition services.
We are committed to our collaborative prison workshop and Through the Gate programme. Along with providing supportive employment opportunities to ex-offenders, promoting inclusion and social mobility, we strive for the continual development of the scheme with the launch of the new certified courses.
To find out more about the prison ESG initiative, our secure data erasure services or our resale platform – contact our friendly teams on 0161 777 1000 (Manchester), 01621 484380 (Maldon) or visit www.tier1.com
UK Government, Circular, Uswitch, Unlock Net Zero, Capgemini, Antz Junction,