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It’s easy to be green: Rogers marks Earth Day with e-waste collection program

It’s easy to be green: Rogers marks Earth Day with e-waste collection program 

When devices are not properly disposed of, businesses run the risk of letting sensitive data fall into the wrong hands. In 2009, Northrop Grumman, an aerospace and defence technology company that has done contract work with the U.S. government, hired an outside vendor to handle the disposal of its obsolete computers.

A hard drive from one of those computers later turned up in a Ghana market. The drive contained hundreds of government documents, all of which were unencrypted.

At the time, Northrop Grumman released a statement saying that the hard drive was likely stolen from the vendor, but the incident remains an important reminder that there must be greater vigilance around the disposal of e-waste.

It’s also a reminder that e-waste can cause a host of environmental issues. Most devices that end up in markets in Asia and Africa are scavenged from e-waste dumping grounds, where workers pick through piles of old computers that leak toxic chemicals into the air, earth, and water.

“These devices contain things like lead, mercury, and cadmium,” said Jennifer Bell, director, marketing and communications, Rogers Business Solutions. “They’re very hazardous to the environment.”

Some companies – like Rogers – recognize the negative impact of e-waste and are taking steps to correct it. To mark this year’s Earth Day, Rogers collected e-waste at its Rogers Data Centres in Markham, London, Ottawa, Edmonton, and Calgary on April 23 and 24.

“The program started with our own disposal initiative. We wanted to find a way that would be environmentally friendly,” said Bell. “One of our staff members was looking for a way to securely deal with internal e-waste. That employee came across Artex Environmental.”

Artex Environmental is a Toronto-based organization that specializes in the disposal of e-waste, and Rogers has teamed with them for the past three years to offer the eWaste program to businesses.

Last year, Rogers collected 43,970 pounds of e-waste; this year, it aimed to collect 60,000 pounds. In the first two years of the initiative’s run, Rogers managed to divert almost 35 tonnes of e-waste from landfills and developing countries.

Although Rogers only runs the initiative two days each year, Bell says other companies offer similar programs. Some cities, such as Edmonton, have their own year-round collection programs.

“It’s important to customers that the data on their devices that might be sensitive will be securely managed by vendors that handle e-waste,” said Bell. “People should keep an eye out for companies that have programs like Rogers’ eWaste program.”

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