Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Waste Free

If you want your IT waste removed for free, it can’t be waste. I think that is a basic premise that anyone can buy into. I know I have said it is waste, and I even found a dictionary definition of the word to prove it last week, but if you expect your chosen recycler to make money out of it you have to believe that it is (a) in good working order and (b) still has some value.

Now I have this conversation several times a day and being such a little ray of sunshine I am delighted to explain that broken stuff is of limited value. If we have to spend several hours repairing something that would then sell for £20 we are losing money. The economics of that are rather different if you send it out to Ghana, or somewhere similar, but that is illegal and the realities of our market are such that we cannot afford to spend valuable time mending things.

So...if your old PC was made by Sir Clive Sinclair and emits blue smoke when you turn it on, I am not collecting it for free. The sum of its parts are worth a couple of quid. There is not enough value left in it to warrant a ‘kit covers cost’ deal.

People’s reluctance to accept this simple fact stems from suspicion. They think they are being turned over. And of course sometimes they are. But ironically it is more often than not the ones who readily let their equipment go for free who end up losing out.

Because quite often their kit is worth something. Not a lot in usual circumstances. You can get a feel for the value of things online and we are not talking fortunes most of the time. But if you can get £20, £30 or £50 each for a batch of PC’s you can cover collection costs and a bit more. That is of course how some of our competitors make a living.

Undoubtedly some of that money should be going back to the original owner, but it doesn’t because free is free. It works both ways. No one mentioned cash back. You make on the swings what you lose on the roundabouts, and you don’t bother to take that old printer, because it’s heavy and not worth a penny to anyone.

Oh yes, because people cherry pick. In order to make ‘kit covers costs’ pay more often than not you cannot afford to take the obviously broken and worthless stuff. So it gets left, or dumped elsewhere or packed off to Africa as a job lot, destined for landfill. I got a customer because of this only yesterday. He had worked out that his free collection left him with a load of junk he would have to pay more to remove and he was not a very happy man, until he met me. My ray of sunshine-ness is quite infectious at times...

My advice, for what it is worth, is to talk to your potential supplier. If they are any good they can give you a view of any resale value before seeing the kit. In our case, we give three values...good, average and scrap. So you have a range, and you can look at your stuff and get a feel for what it is really worth (but you have to give us a proper list, with makes and models).

Then you can talk about the costs of collection, processing and remarketing. In our case we are totally transparent. Weight, distance and van time/capacity plus data erasure. After that, if we can remarket, we negotiate a share of the resale value after our selling costs. Those costs are finite...fees, delivery, new software, repairs. We do everything openly and give full reports.

So if there is any value there, our clients can (and do) see it. But do you know what? Very few come out ahead. Those that do are refreshing lots of assets, more regularly than most. Reasonably new laptops, for instance, can fetch £200 and a few of those covers a multitude of broken monitors and knackered desktops.

But to finish on point, just look at what you are trying to recycle. If it is a pile of old junk that is well beyond repair, don’t kid yourself that recycling it will be free. If it is you are potentially breaking the law and risking data breaches, not to mention condoning damage to our planet.