Bringing old IT equipment to life through sustainable recycling

by Analytics Insight

January 19, 2022

Renew IT is an ITAD (Information Technology Asset Disposition) company that provides asset services throughout the lifecycle of computer hardware. The company offers asset lifecycle management for smartphones, laptops, desktops and data center decommissioning work, as well as providing sustainability reporting to achieve zero carbon goals of the company. Renew IT is primarily focused on e-waste without landfill and creating innovation around sustainability.

The company purchases redundant IT hardware when companies replace their existing fleet and ensures that data is sanitized by NIST 800-88 standards ensuring the hardware finds a new home or else it ensures it is broken down with all metals and plastics responsibly, which are then separated and fed back into the supply chain for remanufacturing.

Renew IT works with SMBs, large enterprises, schools and universities around the world, ensuring they get a better return on investment for their redundant IT hardware without compromising their data security. The company is Australian owned and founded in 2008 where it has grown organically over the past 13 years. In 2021, Renew IT acquired one of its main competitors, Verser Technology Lifecycles. This acquisition expanded the company’s service offering and capabilities. With more feet on the street, the company is providing more field services with Renew IT staff to all of its customers nationwide. With 7 processing facilities in Australia and New Zealand, a soon-to-open facility in Vietnam, and over 300 employees worldwide, Renew It is one of the largest ITAD companies in the southern hemisphere.

A leader in re’NEW’ing and recycling since the 1990s

James Lancaster is the CEO of Renew IT. He started his journey with Renew IT in 2007 from his kitchen table. The objective was to promote the reuse of used equipment and prevent it from ending up in landfills. “A lot of the gear that was disposed of by people served its purpose for them, but still had another life to have in the hands of another user,” James explains. He’s been doing this since the 1990s, when sustainability and responsible recycling weren’t even a thought. It was clear to him how much waste companies were contributing to the environmental impact and the most obvious thing to him was “the best form of recycling is to reuse”. So he created a business model around that. Today, James oversees the operation of all facilities, engaging daily with all of his team members. James likes to play with his hands, not just in senior management but on the kit in the warehouse with the tech guys too.

Multitasking to support every end of activity

When James started his journey in the industry, he was cleaning equipment in the warehouse handling all the equipment as he walked through the doors fresh out of someone’s office. When James started the company, it was just him, wearing all the hats for many years, going to customer sites and doing the collections himself, like data destruction, cleaning, packing and shipping. In fact, James says he doesn’t think there’s any work within the organization that he hasn’t done himself because he’s always been very hands-on, he has a very understanding granular of what a customer wants, even sometimes when they don’t. “Once you understand all facets of your business, you’re in great shape to pick the right team around you and go from there,” says James.

Being kind: the ideal quality of a leader

James believes leaders need to be personable so employees can approach and communicate. If they are not accessible, James notes that problems cannot be discovered, often until it is too late. He therefore asks emerging leaders to be positive and to inspire people, to park their ego and to show humility.

Interweaving collaboration and innovation to create great products

James says working closely with the University of New South Wales helped him start his journey towards sustainable e-waste solutions. From there, he claims to have started SurfaceMine. The innovative work that comes from this collaboration magnifies on a larger scale in facilities, that way, he says, customers can see firsthand how, working with Renew IT, they are now part of the solution when it’s about solving the problem. electronic waste.

Moving from data centers to the cloud: a disruptive initiative

In particular, for Renew IT, James has seen a large number of companies migrate to the cloud emptying their data centers. He claims that Renew IT was able to assist in this process by responsibly uninstalling, securely destroying data and dismantling unsaleable equipment. “Of course, we still realize a lot of value in the resale of most equipment, particularly if it is less than five years old, but for some of the older equipment where the shipping costs outweigh the value, our working with SurfaceMine and UNSW is invaluable,” adds James.

Overcome primary challenges with tenacity and perseverance

James thinks starting out as a small player in the industry is both a blessing and a curse. He initially struggled to get a foot in the door as no one had heard of him, but through sheer tenacity and perseverance, opportunities slowly presented themselves which allowed him to show his point. difference and provide a more flexible level of service.

The road to follow

For Renew IT, James says the focus is on listening to their customers’ needs and servicing accordingly. He notes that customers are moving towards zero carbon goals and Renew IT wants to help them along that path. “We have increased our service capabilities, including troubleshooting to facilitate this process. As offices have moved to more hybrid environments, we have adapted. We now provide 24/7 services, so whatever time of day someone needs to talk to us, they can,” said James.

Advice for emerging leaders

James says he improves his performance by asking himself, “How can I best serve my business and my team?” He says the answer will involve leading by example, not being afraid to get your hands dirty, and not letting your ego overshadow your humility. James adds that if leaders can show it to people, then people will want some of what they have.

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