Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Comfortably Numb?

I think people are confused about what we do. Even I am sometimes. Mind you, I am at the age when confused is something of a permanent state. Pink Floyd issued a track on The Wall called ‘Comfortably Numb’ and that is a state I can certainly identify with. But I digress. I think any business niche like ours, which was basically created by legislation, is bound to irritate some people at times. Simply because they are forced into it.

Business waste has to be paid for. Consumers pay for it as part of their council tax and the bin men arrive like magic, but businesses are required to arrange it all themselves and specifically cough up. So all your Biffa’s and SITA’s and any other combination of letters appeared on the scene.

Human beings are quite clever. We soon recognised that we had to deal with our waste. Otherwise it tends to clog the place up. So dumps and tips appeared, then regulations started to be introduced and sooner or later we turned a lighter shade of green and stringent environmental rules were put in place. We had to minimise landfill and stop using things we could not recycle. We could not carry on burying our problems in the ground. Not even up north.

So recycling became a thing. Throw it all in a bin became put it in one of our many bins, separating it out before it gets further sorted by your service provider. But that still isn’t good enough for some things of course. WEEE and more particularly redundant IT equipment really needs a much more joined up approach, especially when sustainability is demanded of the industry.

And this is where the confusion comes in. Companies like eReco are committed to remarketing because it is the greenest thing to do. Even the politicians agree with this bit – extending the lifecycle is the best thing for the environment. But if you are disposing of an old laptop and you discover we are going to sell it on, you do tend to think that you deserve a slice of the pie.

You think ‘hey that’s mine, why should I pay to give it to him, so that he can sell it? He should pay me in the first place!’ and on the face of it, that sounds quite reasonable of course. I cannot deny the basic logic.

However, you have to look at the big picture here. First of all, in the vast majority of cases where there is a resale value, it is quite low. No one is getting fat on this stuff. Secondly for every kilo of good stuff we collect, we get 10 kilos of proper, honest to goodness waste. Thirdly, we have to collect it, hump it around and store it. Fourthly we have all sorts of paperwork to generate. Fifthly we have to deal with any data-bearing items. Sixthly we have to test, clean and repair it if we think we can sell it. Seventhly, we have to sell it, and deliver it, before someone will pay us for it, and then offer some sort of warranty against it breaking down within 14 days or whatever.

People are confused because they don’t get what we do. I have said before that you can sell just about anything if you ignore the law. It will get exported to a less fussy marketplace and end up in landfill, processed by half-starved kids with no shoes on, but hey, we can turn muck into brass, so who gives a...

Well we do, actually. That is the point. We are in this game for two reasons...we believe in sustainability and we care about data security. Oh and we quite like to eat and live in a house. And no one should be confused about what we are doing. We are managing your risk in the disposal of redundant equipment with regards to environmental and data protection laws.

And that is not a free service.