New asset reuse program couples environmental and charitable benefits

Cosmo the lemur joined Compugen, partners and customers for the Green4Good launch.

Compugen launched a new sustainability initiative this week that aims to combine combating the environmental impact of end-of-life technology products and supporting charities in need.

The company formally announced its Green4Good Program this Tuesday to an audience of approximately 75 managers, directors and executives from Canadian businesses and charities, a lemur and one kestrel (attending alongside representatives from Woodbridge, Ont.-based Earth Rangers).

The program has end-of-life IT assets repurposed and resold where possible offsetting the cost and proceeds going to the chosen charity of the customer. In the program assets destined for disposal are securely wiped of data using U.S. Department of Defense-approved processes, and then broken down for reuse or recycling at Compugen’s Richmond Hill, Ont. refurbishment centre.

Founding partners of the program include HP Canada, Sims Metal Management, WWF-Canada, LoyaltyOne, Friends of the Earth, the Canadian Centre for Abuse Awareness, WoodGreen Community Services’ Homeward Bound, the Massey Centre and the Project ChildCare Foundation.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency research cited by Steve Glover, senior vice president of Compugen Finance and driver of the program, point to it being 25 times more beneficial to the environment to reuse a computer than to recycle one every three to five years.

Glover noted that building the average desktop and monitor requires 530 lbs. of fossil fuels, 50 lbs. of chemicals and 3,330 lbs. of water. Approximately 75 per cent of a PC’s energy consumption takes place before ever being turned on, he said, and that a discarded five-pound laptop also accounts for 20,000 pounds of raw material used in its creation.

“As far as technology has evolved, there’s no question that we’ve created a monster,” Glover said. “Here at home, more than 120,000 tonnes of computer equipment accumulates in landfills, the equivalent of 28,000 adult elephants.”

Through the first few months of developing the program, Glover said it has raised $150,000 in charitable funds, saved corporations $500,000 in asset disposition related costs and been able to reuse over 90 per cent of all IT assets received. The remaining 10 per cent was recycled.

Hadley Archer, vice president of strategic partnerships at Green4Good founding partner WWF-Canada, said the program helps address both issues of the environmental cost of creating new computers and the growing landfill, while also bringing funds and technology to good causes. Still, he says such programs are only a start.

“You hear a lot about really good initiatives like this one, but the reality is we need a lot more of this in order to solve the problem,” Archer said.

Compugen has set a 2011 goal for the Green4Good program of raising $1,000,000 for charities, increasing awareness of the program, and adding 25 more corporate partners to its current mix.