Out Of Use collects old ICT apparatus for reuse or recycling
"There is considerable demand for cheap but effective devices"
Mark Adriaenssens, Out Of Use
An old printer, a worn-out LCD screen, etc. What do you do as a company with all those electrical, electronic or ICT devices that are no longer required? "Many discarded goods can still be used, and we recycle the rest in order to retain the raw materials. This means that old apparatus is still worth something," says Mark Adriaenssens from Out Of Use.
Reuse is the top priority in the circular economy. If we can use apparatus for longer, then less new devices will be produced and we can save on resources. Precious resources are also retained by recycling. That was the insight that led Mark Adriaenssens to start his own business.
"From an energy point of view, it is not necessarily better to keep on using old products. It is better to replace an old CRT monitor with an LCD screen. However, in most cases it is worth the effort: the higher energy costs are less harmful to the environment than the production of a new device."
"At Out Of Use, we look product by product to see what can be reused. New technology gives us an advantage. For example, older PCs have less memory, but with everything now being stored in the cloud, this is less of an issue. We naturally ensure that all data is entirely erased from old computers. The companies that sell their equipment to us do not want any information to be leaked."
Equipment that can no longer be used is recycled. "Collections are carried up together with CityDepot, the urban distribution company that always looks for the most sustainable solution. In doing so, we ensure that our lorry is not required to drive into the city," explains Mark Adriaenssens. "After assessing the equipment, we call upon thirteen social workshops to dismantle the products. We can recover the mainboard, memory chip, hard drive, and more from a PC. We can reuse some of the components and the remainder are passed to specialised processors."
We report the entire process, in order to guarantee sustainability. Mark Adriaenssens: "Recupel regularly conducts audits here. From all the electronic waste that we receive, 89.96 per cent is transformed into secondary raw materials."
Useful apparatus retained by Out Of Use is sold off cheaply in a depot in Molenbeek. "In doing so, we help to bridge the digital gap in our country," says Mark Adriaenssens. "We also sell recycled materials in Europe, but do not send anything to China, Africa or Asia. Europe needs to buy all its precious materials elsewhere: we prefer to hold on to the products containing such resources. Moreover, we do not wish to be involved in eco-dumping. If we send goods to Africa, then they will just be dumped once they stop working. In Europe, they will be recycled."
Out Of Use's list of customers is growing steadily, and often via word of mouth. "If worn-out ICT apparatus is still worth something, then that is a nice bonus for a company," says Mark Adriaenssens. "And, of course, those that buy recycled materials from us also save money. Our own profit margins are quite modest, but still worthwhile. We are proud of our thoroughly sustainable business."
SUSTAINABILTY BENEFIT IN FIGURES
► 90 per cent of the materials collected by Out Of Use is used again (either reused or recycled).
► 1 tonne of collected material = 1.44 tonne fewer CO2 emissions, by avoiding the extraction of new primary resources.
► Devices are given a longer life, meaning that less new devices are produced.
► Usable apparatus and recycled components are sold locally → precious resources remain in Europe.
► Cheap ICT apparatus helps to bridge the digital gap.