How businesses can do their bit to reduce e-waste and adopt a more circular way of managing their tech

Steve Oliver CEO and co-founder of musicMagpie pictured at the company’s distribution centre

By Steve Oliver, CEO of musicMagpie

In March this year, the EU commission set out proposals as part of the Circular Economy Action Plan that hopes to end the throwaway culture in which products are purchased, used for a brief amount of time and then left dormant, thrown away, or traded in for a newer model.

This has also been announced in the context of an increasing awareness around this behaviour’s impact on the environment. Global e-waste increased by 21% in the past five years to over 50 million tonnes in 2019 and the current rate of responsible e-waste recycling stands at just 17.4% globally. When these electronic items end up in landfill, they then account for up to 70% of landfills’ toxic waste, which is incredibly harmful for the environment.

At musicMagpie, these issues have been a concern for us since our conception and have driven us to look at every part of our business model to ensure that it operates in a circular way that sees us buy back our customers’ unused tech, refurbish it to the highest quality before selling it back on for the next person to use. Our consumer offering ensures we give over 400,000 consumer tech products a year, a second life; we refurbish 95% of the products we buy from consumers and if we can’t refurbish them, we use their parts to refurbish other products.

It’s a model that is becoming more appealing to consumers as we are seeing an increase in ethical shopping, as well as people who are now willing to buy refurbished over new, whether that be for environmental concerns, or to simply to purchase top-spec tech for less.

As we become ever more connected, the tech turnover of businesses is also increasing. Laptops, computers, mobile phones, tablets and their accessories are now considered part of a basic package for most employees, but these things become faulty, require upgrades or just become too slow to support newer software.

This is why we wanted to offer a solution for businesses that would like to adopt a more sustainable and circular practice when it comes to the tech that they use. Our new corporate recycling scheme will allow businesses to recycle their unwanted company smartphones, tablets and Apple Computers for money, which can either go back into their business, fund upgrades, be used to reward staff or even be donated to a charity of the company’s choosing.

We also have a number of WEEE and GDPR compliant measures in place to ensure sensitive information is completely secured and erased when phones are traded in, so business owners can have piece of mind that they’re covered from a data security perspective. We will automatically erase all data on phones and laptops, factory reset and erase all data from MacBooks and we can provide data erasure certificates for phones and tablets on request. Our courier collection service is also completely secure to make sure all items arrive safely.

To trade-in their unused tech, businesses need to visit the new corporate section of the site and list the items they want to recycle. From there, they’ll receive a bespoke quote based on the number of devices and their specification. We’ll then provide a courier service to collect the items and payment will be made via bank transfer or a donation to a charity of the business’ choice.

The Manchester arm of Dentsu Aegis Network North recently traded in 180 devices as part of the scheme. Those no longer usable were recycled responsibly and the money generated by their unused iPhones was then put towards the upgrade cost of their new devices. This is a perfect example of what the scheme is intended for.