Kiwis throw away around 80,000 tonnes of electronic waste a year – something a New Zealand IT executive says is "quite often overlooked".
"People are used to thinking about recycling things like plastic but are not always aware of how much e-waste there is," says Daniel Norton, national sales manager for IT company Cyclone.
"You could say technology is a wasteful industry," he says. "About 20,000 tonnes of this waste comes from computers, televisions and other devices which, in itself, is an incredible amount."
In the face of this Norton says Cyclone is committed to the recycling or the re-use of as many old devices as possible to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill. This is one part of its policy of working with customers for the full life-cycle of their technology from the initial deployment and software packaging to the end-of-life e-waste issues.
Through its IT service Cyclone manages over 120,000 PCs throughout the country. In a partnership with the Ministry of Education it has helped deploy over 40,000 computers during the last 18 months to students allowing them to study at home during the Covid pandemic.
News reports in 2020 revealed the extent of e-waste with Kiwis said to recycle less than two per cent of all electronic waste generated each year. According to a Radio New Zealand report the average Kiwi produces more than 20kg of e-waste every year, one of the highest per capita amounts on the planet.
Norton says a 10-year long partnership Cyclone has with the US multi-national IT company Hewlett Packard (HP) is seeking to change this. "Together with HP we are actively focused on sustainability and looking at how we can incorporate more recyclables into new PCs."
As part of the partnership Cyclone purchase HP products both directly and through a local distributor - and support their sustainability initiatives.
HP launched a recycling programme in 1991 and up to 2015 had re-used or recycled more than 1.8 million tons of computer hardware and supplies. Now it aims to eliminate 75 per cent of all its single-use plastic packaging by 2025 and to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040.
Norton believes it is important that business and other organisations understand that there are both cost savings and environmental benefits in having a third party manage the full IT cycle.
"Technology is changing incredibly rapidly and every advancement means we are more reliant on it in our personal lives, education, employment and business," he says. "While this has a positive impact and allows things like remote working and cloud computing, it does come at a cost that reaches far beyond the wallet."
While one cost is environmental, Norton says there are also costs for business by "going it alone" without a dedicated IT support partner.
"The challenge is that as the importance of IT grows, so does its complexity and the size of the team needed to take care of it. Businesses can be hit with unexpected events or face cyber security threats both from outside a business and potentially through its employees.
"There is also decisions around infrastructure, device management and back-ups to consider. It can be hard to keep up. We stay switched-on to the latest trends and through this we can keep a business and its people future-ready across all these areas."
Norton says he recently had an example of a Cyclone customer who was using devices that were seven to eight years old. By replacing them with more energy efficient new computers the client immediately began saving costs to such an extent that the devices were forecast to effectively pay for themselves within 14 months.
Norton says Cyclone both sells electronic devices and offers managed IT services. The company, which is 100 per cent New Zealand owned, was established in 1984 in Christchurch as a PC manufacturer under the name Dove.
Today it employs over 140 people and has clients across business, government, schools and tertiary education sectors. Norton says it receives 7000 support requests every month and manages New Zealand's largest single fleet of PCs (over 54,000).
For more information go to: www.cyclone.co.nz/promotions/hp