Reusable Yield – The One Number That Predicts Profitable and Sustainable IT Disposition

By Robert Houghton, Sage Sustainable Electronics

Reusable Yield is the silver bullet metric that measures how little of your old electronics goes to waste when you buy new hardware. It’s simple to calculate. Divide the total number of items reused—through redeployment, resale, or donation—by the total number of devices dispositioned. Nothing predicts end-of-lifecycle financial results and environmental impact better.

ITAD has Changed

Too often we imagine IT asset disposition (ITAD) as a disposal or electronics recycling process, but that perspective is at least ten years out of date. At one time software requirements were advancing so fast that old hardware couldn’t keep pace—no longer true.

Now hardware easily lasts 6-10 years, and with the growing availability of cloud computing, minimum required horsepower is actually going down. A five-year old PC does a great job of internet browsing and running hosted applications, and has a lot more to give! Servers, printers, displays, and networking equipment are especially long-lived.

The Non-green Side of Recycling

The flip side to Reusable Yield is recycling, but don’t start feeling too green about recycling electronics. Of the scores of materials contained in a typical device, only about a dozen materials are routinely recovered. The rest are simply lost in the soup, requiring that we dig more holes in the ground in order to make new gadgets—not sustainable.

More troubling, a number of conflict minerals are used to manufacture electronics, and of those, only gold is commonly recovered by recycling. The balance must be newly sourced from areas of the world where exploitation of natural resources and the local people often go hand-in-hand. Expanding reuse of electronics reduces our reliance on conflict minerals instantly.

Asset Potential

The reliability of used electronics is a concern for some, but the facts show that quality refurbished devices can be more reliable than new. And the market for low cost refurbished electronics is expanding around the world. That makes repairing and refurbishing used electronics more financially feasible than ever before. A working machine is worth exponentially more than the value of materials recovered by recycling.

What is your Reusable Yield?

About the Author

Bob’s work has always been an expression of his passion for the environment, first as an executive in the adventure sports industry, and more recently as an electronics refurbisher and recycler. He believes that the best ideas, combined with a strong business case and an appeal to our most noble spirits, can change everything for the good. Bob founded Redemtech in 1998, and as President led the company to industry preeminence until its sale to Arrow Electronics (ARW) in October, 2012. He is an expert on sustainable computing and off-network security best practices, including issues of e-waste management, computer reuse, secure reverse locations and verified data destruction. Favorite quote: “Be not simply good— be good for something.” – Henry David Thoreau