Small business owners know what it means to take out the trash. Not only does the phrase sound serious, as if “take out the trash” means the same as “run a tight ship” or “separate the wheat from the chafe,” but it also literally refers to taking out the trash – something many dedicated small business owners are happy to do. If you’re the boss, yet still tasked with taking out the garbage, don’t forget to properly purge obsolete electronic devices and other tech trash.

More than ever before, consumers have high expectations of every stakeholder along the supply chain. Among the many concerns facing consumers and their commercial partners, environmental values play a growing role driving consumer spending decisions. Doing the right thing for the environment is no longer optional – sustainable practices are part of the cost of doing business in modern markets. Not only must you talk the talk, but consumers also want to see your organization in action, reflecting shared values about sustainability, responsible production practices, and other green issues.

Though it’s only one piece of a comprehensive recycling and waste handling strategy, properly disposing of computers and other high tech junk is one way your company can act responsibly and build goodwill in the marketplace. USA Today recently explored several ways to reduce tech waste, which can have side benefits for your business.

Small Businesses Stand Up For the Environment

Eco-conscious small business professionals want to do their part, protecting the environment. To that end, many organizations commit to recycling and responsible production standards. Regular recycling programs are now widespread and efficient, but even the most dedicated companies sometimes fall short, generating too much tech trash and failing to properly dispose of it.

From tablets, phones, and desktop computers, to monitors, keyboards, printers and accessories, tech waste accumulates as each new generation of technology supplants the last, rendering yesterday’s gadgets idle, in the shadow of their replacements.

Sprout Funding logoLike other refuse your business generates, you’re responsible for disposing of the rubbish, but tech trash isn’t bound for the regular garbage bin. The material has components and chemicals that break down in landfills, so tech waste requires special attention. Many states enforce laws prohibiting throwing electronics in the garbage.

Tech components and materials can often be extracted and recycled, when a device or office machine comes to the end of its useful life. But what if you could slow the flow from the source, reducing the overall amount of tech trash created at your workplace? According to USA Today contributor, Rhonda Abrams, you can do a number of things to extend the life of electronics and slow the flow of obsolete tech castoffs.

Refresh Rather than Replace – The lure of the latest and greatest gadgets draws buyers to replace usable versions of electronics with new releases, just to stay on the cutting edge of technology. The same effect also impacts business consumers, so you should ask yourself: Does your operation really need the latest generation of technology to get the job done?

Each case is unique, so if the answer is yes, don’t compromise needed infrastructure to reduce your tech footprint. But if you can get by without brand new technology, every time, refreshing rather than replacing is a good way to do your part for the environment and simultaneously stretch your tech budget.

Updating computers, installing fresh batteries in phones, and adding new features to your existing production equipment are a few of the ways to squeeze extra life from electronics and commercial machines.

Conduct Repairs – In the past, broken fixtures and business appliances were routinely repaired, rather than replaced. In today’s rapidly evolving tech environment, business trends have shifted toward replacement, moving away from traditional repair practices. If you can still find someone to service your phone or commercial device, you may be at the mercy of the manufacturer, because third party repair services don’t have access to the parts and expertise available to factory specialists.

Missed repair opportunities not only add to your overall tech tab, but taking repairable items out of service creates disposal dilemmas. Fortunately, evidence suggests tides may be turning; 20 states have introduced laws protecting consumers’ right to repair goods. The initiatives give third-party repair professionals a chance to provide competitive service, which may drive down prices and increase electronics’ time in service.

Find a Buyer – Technology rendered obsolete by one business, may play a useful role for another. If you’ve outgrown technology, it may be possible to sell items to another commercial operation. Even if you don’t command top dollar for tech cast offs, selling keeps the items in use.

Give it Away – Gently used electronics are in-demand among charitable organizations, so your past generation technology may have useful life left in it. Finding users for your unneeded electronics not only makes sense for the planet, but tax benefits for making contributions can also improve your bottom line.

Properly Recycle – Recyclers specializing in electronics require certification, before legally handling the materials. Certified electronics recyclers know how to properly dispose of various consumer items, based upon their content and construction; they are the only ones qualified to responsibly recycle your old phones, computers, and obsolete devices.

Before recycling mobile devices, laptops, and, business electronics, the items’ operating systems should be returned to factory settings whenever possible. To protect business information stored there, computer drives should be wiped clean prior to recycling them. If you’re not equipped to complete the process, a computer repair or retail shop can assist.

The steady march of business technology heralds operational advantages, but also leaves behind a trail of obsolete, outdated, and sometimes lightly used commercial equipment and devices. Proper disposal is mandated, so there’s a protocol for parting with electronics and other specialized tech trash. In the meantime, you may be able to refresh, repair, or re-appropriate business technology to reduce your organization’s environmental impact.

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