Councils across the UK can now reap in the financial and social benefits associated with refurbishing or decommissioning and recycling the country's outdated IT equipment, following a landmark deal.
The Improvement and Efficiency Social Enterprise (iESE), local government's very own transformation mutual has entered into a partnership with ICT Refurbishment Ltd, a fully accredited member of the Asset Disposal and Information Security Alliance to ensure half of all profits made by ICTR will now be ploughed back into helping the public sector sustain and improve services.
Working with global blue chip companies, as well as small to medium businesses and local authorities, ICTR is not only creating new jobs and apprenticeships, but is now also providing a public sector circular economy for ICT. Helping to break down the north/south divide of older people online, upgrading school ICT and saving precious landfill space is paramount to iESE, so this new partnership provides the ideal solution and any profits made will now help further improve frontline services.
Not for profit, and owned by councils, iESE is now encouraging all public bodies to think about how they dispose of both software and hardware to either give something back to society; tap into a new revenue stream; ensure they never unknowingly give up e-waste to rogue disposal agents or possibly end up facing hefty EU fines.
In 2011, 77% of the UK's e-waste was illegally exported to West Africa bringing a devastating impact on the lives of people living there and the environment. Criminal gangs exploited young children to sift through the waste to recover copper and more worrying, un-wiped data to feed illicit markets.
As of April 2010, the ICO can serve a civil monetary penalty of up to £500,000 (up from £5,000) on any data controller that has committed a serious, reckless or intentional breach of one or more of the eight principles of the Data Protection Act (DPA.). This is going to increase in 2014 with current proposals being considered at 2% of global turnover.
More worryingly, if the data is subsequently sold it becomes a criminal offence under section 55 of the Data Protection Act, which could have far more serious implications for the data controller.
Steven Coates, Chief Executive of ICTR, said:
"By finding the safest, most secure and sustainable way to dispose of unwanted IT equipment, councils can be assured that their e-Waste will either be helping the most vulnerable in society, be upgraded and redeployed back to them to save budgets or recycled appropriately.
"There is a lot of confidential information on local authority ICT, and councils across the UK need to ensure that their e-waste is completely stripped of all information when it is either passed on or given to a waste disposal agent. They need to be fully assured that they are working within the law."
By managing their disposal remit correctly, councils can mitigate their risk and uncover the hidden social benefits. Already, UK and West African schools are benefiting from upgraded ICT. Landfill is being avoided and strained budgets are being saved as ICTR's procedures and asset management systems enable clients to track every asset from the point of collection to the point of sale, meaning if there is any hidden value in the assets, it can be directly attributed back to clients.
Cllr Paul Bettison, Chairman of iESE and Leader of Bracknell Forest Council, said:
"No longer should a three-year-old company computer, out of warranty, ever be regarded as e-Waste. By working with iESE and ICTR not only will public bodies, where available, make financial gains, they also get the chance to help a parent to plug their home into the internet for the first time to enable their child to do their homework or an elderly person to break free from the physical constraints of old age and stay in touch with the wider world and access online services. We're also providing young people with the chance to start up their own businesses by working with charities.
"By not paying for disposal services you are asking your disposal company to play this game on your behalf and if they lose the game it is you that will suffer. You will be the one paying the fine and cleaning up the damage to your reputation. Cases of personal data ending up on eBay or equipment being illegally exported and dumped proves that overall this game is not being played very well. Corners are being cut."