E-Scrap News

Computer manufacturer partners with Free Geek Toronto

Free Geek Toronto received its first load of devices from Lanner this month. | New Africa/Shutterstock

A global OEM is working with a nonprofit recycling organization to get returned devices refurbished for reuse by individuals that otherwise wouldn’t have access to them.

The Toronto arm of Lanner, a Taiwan-based computer manufacturer, will send devices in its waste stream to nonprofit e-scrap processor Free Geek Toronto. Lanner is further supporting Free Geek Toronto with $5,000 for 2020.

The partnership came in part from Lanner’s interest in the model Free Geek Toronto employs. The organization prioritizes reuse and refurbishment, maximizing the lifespan of used devices and only sending truly end-of-life devices to mechanical recycling processors.

“We’re trying to find a better way to get the materials we have, some of which are very functional and usable, to people who can use them,” said Geoffrey Egger, general manager of North America for Lanner, in an interview.

The company manufactures various types of computer platforms and has been active in Toronto for about 10 years. It’s not a direct-to-consumer company so it doesn’t deal with end-of-life consumer electronics, but through the manufacturing process and through product returns, the company still generates a volume of discarded electronics.

Lanner has worked with recycling firms that shred the devices for commodity recovery or parts harvesting, but the company has been interested in moving these electronics into the reuse realm.

Additionally, Lanner appreciates Free Geek Toronto’s model of getting electronics into the hands of people who may not otherwise have access to them, Egger explained.

“They will refurbish and reuse the equipment that we make and try to drive it into new and underserved channels,” Egger said. “They partner with a lot of entry-level colleges, people learning how to code and use electronic hardware for the first time.”

The money Lanner is supporting Free Geek Toronto with is to help the organization complete this mission.

“We could just send it to an electronics recycler who could take it for free or pay us a pittance,” Egger said. “But what we don’t get there is the knowledge that we’ve done our best to preserve the life of the goods and make sure it’s not getting to the landfill too soon.”

The partnership was announced in December and Free Geek Toronto received its first load of devices from Lanner this month.

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