Corporate citizenship is important to Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits, says Director of IT Asset Management Eyleen Rodriguez. That’s why it disposes of old technology in an environmentally responsible way.

Jun 16 2023

The Right Way to Dispose of Old Tech

Organizations have many ways to get rid of their e-waste responsibly, from recycling to reuse, resale and donation.

As a family-owned company, Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits takes its community obligations seriously. That includes disposing of old technology in an environmentally responsible way.

The Miramar, Fla.-based company is the largest distributor of wine and spirits in America. Its 23,000 employees across 44 states, the District of Columbia and Canada focus on giving back to the communities they operate in, through activities including volunteer and scholarship awards to environmental sustainability efforts.

Southern Glazer’s recently turned to IT asset disposition company Procurri to collect and properly dispose of its e-waste. Procurri refurbishes and resells still-usable technology and recycles the rest, which helps Southern Glazer’s reduce its carbon and e-waste footprint. To prevent data breaches, Procurri also performs data sanitization on each device to ensure all data is erased.

“One of our company’s key pillars is making our business more sustainable,” says Eyleen Rodriguez, Southern Glazer’s director of IT asset management. “We take a leadership role in being environmentally responsible with our IT assets, and it also reduces cyber risk.”

To fight climate change, many businesses are building sustainability practices into their technology lifecycles, from purchase through disposal, says Forrester Research analyst Abhijit Sunil.

Some companies ask their tech vendors to build technology with more recycled or renewable materials. Some upgrade to more energy-efficient IT equipment. Still others extend the lifespan of their tech devices by one or more years to reduce e-waste, he says.

But key to organizations’ sustainability efforts are effective IT asset disposition (ITAD) programs, which ensure the disposal of hardware and electronic devices in a safe, environmentally friendly way through recycling, reuse or resale.

“It makes a big impact, and it’s one of the core pillars of an organization’s sustainability strategy,” Sunil says.

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The Value of a Well-Managed Device Recycling Program

Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits used to allow each office location to dispose of its own e-waste through local recyclers. To better manage and track the process, the company centralized its IT disposal operations in late 2020.

The beverage distributor deploys tens of thousands of devices to employees, including Lenovo ThinkPads for office workers and iPad and iPhone devices for frontline employees, including sales staff, truck drivers and warehouse workers. The IT department frequently upgrades technology, retiring older equipment for employees nationwide, Rodriguez says.

The company also recently decommissioned servers, storage hardware and networking equipment as part of a data center consolidation.

To remove its old IT assets, Southern Glazer’s reached out to CDW, which brought in its ITAD partner Procurri, a certified recycler.

Procurri picks up equipment from Southern Glazer’s about 15 times every quarter, managing as many as 16,000 IT assets annually, Rodriguez says. About half the assets are old laptops and smartphones; printers, peripherals and other IT equipment make up the rest.

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Southern Glazer’s usually waits until it has a pallet’s worth of end-of-life equipment before it schedules a pickup. A Southern Glazer’s technician does an initial data wipe. After Procurri transports the equipment to its facilities, it sanitizes devices to ensure that data is completely erased and not recoverable.

“We don’t want IT assets to be just sitting around,” Rodriguez says. “This clears out our storage areas that are wasting space, and it ensures that our assets are properly retired and wiped and don’t get into the wrong hands.”

Procurri repurposes and resells equipment that is still operational and recycles the rest. Rodriguez and her team can log on to a portal anytime to track the disposal process for each device, view certificates of destruction and import the information to the company’s Flexera asset management tool.

Very little, if anything, ends up in landfills, Rodriguez says.

“Working with a trusted partner, we can check the box that the assets are disposed of in accordance with National Institute of Standards and Technology guidelines, and it also ensures that we meet all local and state laws,” she says. “It makes sense for us to outsource the expertise.”

Eyleen Rodriguez
We take a leadership role in being environmentally responsible with our IT assets, and it also reduces cyber risk.”

Eyleen Rodriguez Director of IT Asset Management, Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits

Why Businesses Should Donate Old Devices

Donating to nonprofit organizations is another way companies can offload their old IT devices responsibly. Last year, Avanir Pharmaceuticals in Aliso Viejo, Calif., donated $34,000 worth of old laptops and iPhone and iPad devices.

“We constantly cycled through equipment with new models, and we had storage rooms that were getting filled up with old equipment that we kept thinking we would renovate or repurpose someday,” recalls Lisa Locklear, former Avanir senior vice president and CFO, who oversaw the IT department.

Locklear solved the e-waste problem by donating the devices to the Orange County United Way, which last summer launched an initiative to provide low-income residents with technology.

Orange County United Way launched the program in partnership with tech distributor Ingram Micro, which refurbishes old computers, smartphones and other equipment and then provides them to local families in need, says Orange County United Way President and CEO Susan B. Parks.

If donated devices can’t be reused, Ingram Micro sells off the parts and gives the proceeds to the Orange County United Way. So far, the initiative has generated more than $80,000, which the nonprofit has used to buy new technology for low-income community members. “A lot of families don’t have access to technology, or they are sharing a computer with multiple people in a household,” Parks says.

The donation process is easy, according to Locklear. Ingram Micro comes onsite, hauls them away and wipes the devices.

“This was a win-win situation,” says Locklear, who departed Avanir after a merger. “It was an opportunity for us to deal with our e-waste and put technology into the hands of members of our community who might not have the means.”

2 Million

The kilograms of air pollution saved by Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits’ old technology recycling efforts

Source: CDW and Procurri

How to Leverage Old IT Equipment to Defray the Cost of New Hardware

Companies that allow their electronics recyclers to resell their equipment can earn a percentage of the profits to buy new technology, says David Bernstein, CEO and founder of AnythingIT, an electronics recycler.

CDW and AnythingIT have partnered for more than 20 years to offer such services. The IT asset management services company, based in North Bergen, N.J., assists businesses with IT asset disposal nationwide, from onsite data destruction, packaging and removal to reselling and recycling old equipment.

AnythingIT inspects and tests hardware devices to give organizations an estimate of potential proceeds. Used technology between 3 and 5 years old holds the most value, he says. 

“We grade technology to help determine how much money customers can get,” Bernstein says.

READ MORE: How IT leaders can choose the right endpoints for their environments.

Proceeds help businesses offset the cost of AnythingIT’s services and add extra money into their IT coffers. CDW gives a rebate that they can use to purchase new technology.

“A company may need 1,200 laptops but only have the budget for 1,000. This could make the difference,” Bernstein says.

Edward Rose & Sons, a real estate development and management company in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., resells and recycles its end-of-life technology through an ITAD partner. But it first gives employees the right to purchase the equipment at a discount.

The company sells old Dell laptops to employees for $25, while iPad and iPhone devices go for $15, says Ryan Montcastle, a system administrator.

“They are popular items around Christmas. It’s a great value,” he says. “Employees with young kids don’t want to buy them new iPads because they can break them. But $15 for a tablet is a good price, and they are still functional.”

Photography By Sonya Revell
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