Managing TCO while maintaining the environment
If New York City did curbside recycling of computers, its little blue bins would be overflowing. Around the world, in virtually any industry, organizations are being challenged to better manage Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), while being more environmentally conscious. Of particular concern is the pressure to improve the recycling process for obsolete computer equipment, and nowhere was this challenge greater than for the nation’s largest school district.

Eagle Global Logistics (EGL), a nationwide provider of asset recovery logistics and supply chain services, recently partnered with a recycling OEM to work with the New York City School District—with 1.1 million students—for a recycling project of tens of thousands of outdated computer systems. In order to provide related services to help reach the lowest possible TCO, while helping to safeguard the environment and meet governmental guidelines, a complete asset recovery solution was created from the ground up.
Challenge: Improve the recycling process
Locating, packing and arranging transportation to collect equipment across multiple locations can be difficult and time consuming and, in this case, posed additional obstacles. Undertaking a mammoth project, 60,000 obsolete pieces of computer equipment needed to be removed from more than 900 schools and administrative locations throughout the school district.

The largest project challenge was the school district environment itself. Assets had to be recovered from multistory buildings with narrow stairways, without elevators and without immediately adjacent parking for loading and unloading. In addition, none of the equipment had been centrally staged in advance. Instead, these assets were in attics, classrooms and basements, and each piece had to be specially packed before being taken to the trucks for loading. Time and timing were also key factors.

The project occurred from mid-November to mid-December during inclement weather, and to accommodate the relatively short school hours and holidays, removal of all assets had to be completed in less than four weeks. With 60,000 items to be moved in 20 business days, 2,400 computers had to be removed from schools and administrative facilities daily, and, in order to clear approximately 45 schools a day, 12 to 15 teams of drivers were required.

Solution: Total life cycle management

The successful solution was to implement the OEM-sponsored Total Life Cycle Management program. Through this program, the entire service process is managed, including building the “box” or computer asset, receiving materials, getting the box ready and customizing the box. The process then continues with delivery, installation, removing and recycling the old box and continuing the process time and again, often in large quantities on a project-by-project basis.

Not only were 60,000 IT assets to be removed from 900 locations, but 1,000 of the systems were slated for a “new life,” which meant they would be refurbished for the school district’s technology education program. Through this program, at-risk middle school students can earn a home PC, while learning skills to prepare them for opportunities in the technology-driven world.

The recycling process was guided to a degree by whether or not specific assets had resale value. If the equipment was not too outdated, it could be resold for a marginal profit and put back into the user community. However, if the equipment held a below-market value, it was delivered off-site for the environmental partner to grind the various materials, such as plastics, metal, lead, copper and glass, for recovery.
Of the multiple project objectives, environmental dedication was a priority. From a financial perspective, EGL’s task involved preserving the equipment value without diminishing its resale value. Even more significant, EGL was part of a collective program to prevent the assets from ending up in a landfill prior to being transported securely to a processor to scrub critical data from the computer hard drives.
To accomplish all the project objectives in a limited time frame, a stable infrastructure was supported by recruiting, training, executing, monitoring and managing an entire network of drivers, trucks and logistics. In turn, the truck fleet and drivers 1171 were responsible for taking all of the removed equipment—all 60,000 pieces—off-site to project stations at nearby airports to be sent to the OEM’s environmental partners for recycling and processing.
Result: Focus on what’s important

As part of the integrated solution, disruptions to the district and its students were minimal. Through the partnership, EGL and the OEM allowed the district to focus on implementing newer technology that better serves the district’s schools, teachers and students, while preventing the outdated equipment from going straight to landfills.
As a TAPA-certified provider, EGL also efficiently transported equipment for the removal of sensitive information from all of the district’s hard drives. (TAPA, the Transported Asset Protection Association, is a consortium of high-tech companies that has established policies and procedures with security in mind.)
There was a time when businesses did little planning for computer equipment life cycles and ultimate asset disposal. However, as with this case, organizations are becoming more sophisticated and environmentally conscious of how they manage and maximize their technology investments.

Reprinted from ASSET 2.0, the Investment Recovery Business Journal, Vol. 2, 2007
© The Investment Recovery Association