Reducing emissions by managing waste
A Moray social enterprise is tackling one of our fastest growing waste streams by re-using and recycling IT devices.
IT waste (or E-waste) is the fastest growing waste stream on the planet. It’s a big problem for every country and community, with Scotland producing one million tonnes of electrical waste each year, and more than 80% of it currently going to landfill.
Where there's a problem, there's an opportunity to be part of the solution, and Forres based social enterprise ReBOOT has been working since 1997 to address the issue of discarded electrical equipment. ReBOOT started as a project within Moray Council and Moray Voluntary Service Organisation to deal with the Council’s own IT and hardware waste. They became a charity in 2004, and then a trading company in 2007.
Today, the ReBOOT team collects discarded domestic and commercial IT equipment from across Moray, Aberdeenshire and the Highlands. They refurbish and resell what they can, and recycle what they can’t, gaining additional income from selling high-value component materials, such as the precious metals contained in circuit boards, to specialist processors.
When you look at IT waste worldwide, we're dealing with a huge problem. The demand for our services is increasing, which is good for business, but underlines the need to provide more and more innovative ways to drive the reuse and recycling of technology.Lee McGrath, Manager, ReBOOT
All of ReBOOT’s recycling services are provided completely free – and this includes collections, recycling audits, and data sanitation. ReBOOT also helps people to understand the important issues around ethical disposal of IT waste and the massive environmental and economic benefits of choosing to use refurbished hardware.
Securing larger commercial and public sector contracts have been critical to ReBOOT’s long-term sustainability and success, enabling the organisation to shift from being a grant-reliant charity to self-financing social enterprise.
When Fujitsu carried out a major upgrade of Highland Council’s IT equipment 10 years ago, the technology firm contracted ReBOOT to reuse and recycle the old hardware. This set a precedent for ReBOOT to secure similar contracts in the future – more recently, with a major Aberdeen-based energy company, a relationship that was sparked at a tsiMORAY event.
Today ReBOOT generates some 90% of its income through trade. Any grant money it receives goes towards ensuring ReBOOT’s long-term sustainability.
ReBOOT is currently working with the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations on an IT refurbishment project – called Supportive Solutions – which aims to provide IT equipment to those most in need.
Working with two local organisations, Forres Area Community Trust and the Libertie Project in Inverness, who are collecting unwanted IT equipment, such as mobile phones, laptops and tablets. These are being refurbished by ReBOOT, prior to being returned to these organisations, who then distribute them free to those most in need in the community.
The programme started in June and aims to see 150 items of IT equipment refurbished and returned to use.
ReBOOT currently employs six staff who oversee operations, and it has 30+ volunteers including vulnerable/supported individuals.
The enterprise prioritises developing local skills, and has eight paid trainees working with its teams – through programmes such as Community Jobs Scotland, Kickstart and others who connect with the team via community payback, and school or college placements.
ReBOOT recently signed up to the Young Persons Guarantee via Developing the Young Workforce, it is a Disability Confident employer, and it plans to further support the breaking down of barriers working with the Social Enterprise Academy on the Wide Horizons project.
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Reducing emissions by managing waste
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