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Responsible Management of IT Assets: How HWI Recycles Tons of E-Waste

Mar 24, 2023 / ESG Stories

As technology constantly evolves, the Information Technology (IT) team at HWI regularly provides employees with leading-edge new tools to help them deliver for customers. But it must also manage what happens to electronic equipment that becomes obsolete.

The team has always recognized that recycling e-waste can reap several sustainability benefits, but now these efforts are being included in HWI’s overall waste reduction tracking. In fact, in just the past four years, HWI has properly recycled more than 3 TONS of e-waste from facilities across our entire U.S. network.

What exactly is e-waste? Imagine how many monitors, keyboards, hard drives, cell phones, routers, keyboards, scan guns, printers, copiers, cables, and other devices HWI must properly manage after these items end their useful lives! IT assets include virtually anything electronic that can be refurbished, reused, resold, or salvage-recycled through materials recovery.

Russell Kozora, manager of IT Support Services at HWI, explains that his team has safely and responsibly managed the company’s e-waste for many years. Initially, HWI worked with Goodwill Industries to process and donate equipment until the nonprofit exited this line of business. Today, HWI partners with CyberCrunch, an e-waste management company that collects IT assets from every HWI location in the United States.

First, items are considered for reuse, if possible. If not, the team follows a rigorous protocol to inventory, prepare, and store each piece in preparation for recycling. Since some items may contain sensitive information, they must be handled safely and properly. The procedures are a part of HWI’s HarbisonWalker Business System (HBS), specifically 5S principles – a lean methodology that creates a more organized and productive environment while eliminating waste.

CyberCrunch employs a comprehensive IT asset disposition (ITAD) strategy to dispose of obsolete or unwanted equipment in a safe and ecologically responsible manner. After HWI decommissions items, the process includes safe transport to CyberCrunch facilities for secure data destruction and equipment sanitization. Then, the IT assets are refurbished and remarketed if they can be reused. If not, they are recycled in accordance with strict state and federal regulations. The process ends with full reporting and certification to ensure that all items have been managed in full compliance with HWI’s standards and all environmental regulations.

The environmental and business benefits of HWI’s responsible e-waste management are numerous:

  • Reducing landfill waste: E-waste may contain hazardous materials that can harm the environment and human health through improper disposal. By properly recycling e-waste, HWI reduces the amount of hazardous waste in landfills and minimizes the potential for environmental pollution.
  • Conserving natural resources: Valuable materials contained in IT assets, such as copper, gold, silver, and other minerals, are extracted for reuse. Recycling conserves natural resources and reduces dependence on virgin materials.
  • Lowering energy consumption: Recycling e-waste requires less energy than mining and refining virgin materials. By recycling IT assets and replacing them with more energy-efficient items, HWI is helping to reduce energy consumption and its carbon footprint.

When HWI launched its employee-led ESG initiative, the team identified waste and energy reduction as key drivers for sustainability goals. The IT department’s vigilant and successful deployment of an effective ITAD strategy is one of the many ways that HWI has been driving improvement across the company, even long before this waste- and energy-reducing best practice became an ESG strategic imperative.

About HWI, A member of Calderys

HWI is the largest supplier of refractory products and services in the United States, with a history that spans more than 150 years. It is part of Calderys and is the brand for the Americas region of the Group. HWI counts 25 manufacturing sites and 20 distribution centers in the Americas, as well as the largest refractory industry research facility in North America. Serving virtually every major industry that requires refractory solutions to enhance production and protect assets, HWI is consistently recognized for its talented experts, industry firsts, and intensely driven excellence.

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