Stacked laptops for resale.

The author explains the business benefits ITAD providers can enjoy when they donate computers to people in need through nonprofit electronics refurbishers. | Plus69/Shutterstock

These days, an environmental, social and governance (ESG) score is more important than ever to organizations. ESG measures an organization’s resource consumption (environmental), community impact (social), and internal compliance practices (governance). ESG is not only good for your company from a social responsibility standpoint, it is also great for your company when it comes to financial value.

Loren Williams

Loren Williams

Research shows that organizations that prioritize ESG benefit from top-line growth, reduction in costs, and employee recruitment and retention. Additionally, ESG breeds loyalty among investors, customers and other stakeholders.

What does ESG have to do with ITAD?

A free and easy way to improve ESG is by partnering with a nonprofit, mission-based organization, like PCs for People, to recycle and redistribute used computers. ITAD companies can also use this strategy to help their corporate partners advance their ESG efforts. That gives ITAD firms another selling point for their services.

The environmental benefit is they will save thousands of pounds of e-waste from ending up in landfills. The social benefit is computers are refurbished and provided to people with low incomes in your community. And the governance benefit is compliance with laws and rules related to recycling and waste.

Most companies are replacing their devices every 3-5 years. Many of these devices end up in landfills or refurbished for profit. But what if we could use these devices to solve a dire problem in today’s society: the digital divide? According to the Pew Research Center, about 4 in 10 adults with lower incomes do not have a desktop or laptop computer (41%). In our modern society, reliance on technology access has never been greater, as it has become a necessity for learning, working, health care and many other daily activities. And as for the environment, the impact can be significant: PCs for People reports they have kept over 9 million pounds of e-waste from ending up in landfills since they started in 1998, with the vast majority coming from businesses.

You can help to improve your corporate clients’ ESG and to bridge the digital divide by partnering with a nonprofit organization.  Whether you can supply computers or not, there is something that everyone can do. Some ideas include:

  • Contribute computers you have collected to a national nonprofit like PCs for People, which will refurbish and distribute them to low-income communities.
  • Let your supplier partners know about the option to contribute a portion of their computers that you are collecting to a nonprofit. By dedicating a portion of the devices to a socially responsible mission, this might encourage potential suppliers to work with you because you can help them fulfill corporate ESG goals.
  • If your supplier partner has computers in locations that are inaccessible to you, suggest they contribute them to a national nonprofit that will pick up the computers and sanitize the devices for no charge. It’s a win-win for everyone!

Whereas once upon a time nonprofit ITAD organizations could not compete with the data sanitization standards of for-profit companies, that is no longer the case. You and your supplier can rest assured that computers that are contributed to nonprofits like PCs for People will receive full professional ITAD services with data deletion certified by the National Association for Information Destruction (NAID). It’s important to check the certifications for other nonprofit processors you may consider working with, as well. For example, Digitunity is another national nonprofit organization that directs computers toward bridging the digital divide.

Concerns related donating directly to people in need

While computers can be donated directly to users in need, that sometimes leaves the burden of software and technical support to you or your supplier. Nonprofit partners are able to distribute computers with fully licensed Microsoft operating systems, as well as providing technical support and warranty, and sometimes even affordable internet and digital learning opportunities.

Success stories are happening every day. Recently, a large retail chain based in the Midwest wanted to support the work of PCs for People, but the company already had a close relationship with a trusted ITAD provider. Instead of turning away from the opportunity, the retail chain simply directed their current ITAD services provider to make a portion of the decommissioned computers available to PCs for People. The nonprofit then picked up the computers after the ITAD provider processed them. The computers went on to be refurbished and distributed to people in need. With a little creativity, everyone can win.

The question isn’t, “How?” The question is, “Will you?” Will your company join thousands across the country that choose to use their e-waste to raise their ESG score securely, affordably and responsibly? I hope the answer is, “Yes!”


Loren Williams is an account executive of ITAD/sourcing at nonprofit PCs for People. For more information about partnering with PCs for People, email Loren Williams.

The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not imply endorsement by Resource Recycling, Inc. If you have a subject you wish to cover in an op-ed, please send a short proposal to [email protected] for consideration.


Gannon & Scott
Environmental Reclaim