How Dudek’s Sustainability and IT Teams Turned “Worthless” E-Waste into an Opportunity to Give Back and Be Green

Due to materials in technology equipment, e-waste needs to be handled differently from regular trash as the materials can create environmental and health risks when incinerated, put in landfills, or melted down. Up until 2021, Dudek had been in the practice of reselling much of our old IT equipment to a third party, recouping the residual value, and putting that money towards purchasing new equipment. For items that didn’t have any remaining value, we were partnering with an e-waste company that safely disposed of the equipment.

Then the pandemic happened, and many workplaces and schools made the transition to remote work or learning. Briana Tellez, leader of Dudek’s DuGreen initiative said, “It was disheartening to hear of employees not having access to a computer to maintain employment and income.” Additionally, students of all ages were not always able to access school platforms for virtual learning due to multiple siblings having to share the home computer or lack of equipment period. Tellez continued, “It was out of gratitude for the seamless transition I was able to make to working from home as a Dudekian that inspired me” to partner with our IT team to support an initiative to provide technology access to others.

E-Waste Donations Help the Community and the Planet

IT Director Brian Nordmann discovered Computers2Kids San Diego (C2K), whose mission is to help children and their families obtain affordable computers and access to the internet. Technology access is vital for equity, but there is a large disparity in technology access in San Diego. According to San Diego County estimates 28% of San Diego families do not have a computer in their home, and 30% of those without a computer in the home said they also had no way to access one otherwise. With a mission that aligned with Dudek’s values, we decided to donate our used computer equipment to C2K, which could put it to good use in our local community. C2K securely wipes (as necessary), refurbishes, redistributes, or reuses older electronic e-waste including:

  • Computers and Laptops
  • Monitors, Keyboards, Mice
  • Printers, Copiers, Fax Machines, and Scanners
  • Servers, Routers, and Switches
  • TVs, Projectors, VCRs, DVRs
  • Radios, Stereos, Speakers
  • Rechargeable Battery Packs
  • Cell Phones, Land Phones
  • Tablets
  • Miscellaneous Cords
  • Software, Hardware
  • Small homeware appliances
  • Almost anything that runs on electricity!

For items that are not usable, they are able to safely dispose of the equipment. Partnering with IT, Tellez moved the firm from donating only items without “residual value” to donating all of Dudek’s outdated equipment to C2K. In tandem, she spearheaded the initiative to provide Dudekians a way to donate their household e-waste as well, with Dudek now providing permanent e-waste collection bins in our Encinitas office. C2K has done six pickups in the past year; the most recent one included 355 individual items of e-waste, including printers, old laptops, vacuums, and large-screen TVs.”

IT Infrastructure and Operations Manager Mark Baldus said, “The response to all our e-waste collection events has been excellent! Local Dudekians have brought in hundreds of pieces of equipment, with the largest being an older model 80-inch rear-projection TV!” Sheer size is no match for the C2K team, who Baldus notes is very efficient at packing everything up and thorough in denoting what was picked up. They even provide a “certification letter showing all of the items with hard disks were wiped or destroyed (literally shredded),” Baldus said. “C2K uses military-grade technology to wipe any existing data, so we have no fear of data being stolen.”

In its first year, our e-waste collection and recycling initiative donated 664 individual pieces of electronic equipment to Computers2Kids.

Dudek’s Commitment to Sustainability

We’re on a mission to green Dudek offices and pursue sustainability in our practices where possible. Our in-house Publications Production team produces more than 450 deliverables, proposals, and reports each year. Given this large paper use, the team has implemented multiple ways to cut down on waste, purchasing materials and supplies made from post-consumer recycled or compostable material, as well as recycling all toner and ink cartridges generated at our Encinitas headquarters.

Sustainability means meeting our own needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. It’s an all-encompassing term that melds together natural and human systems. As an environmental firm, sustainability is approached holistically. Tellez said, “We walk the walk on the importance and responsibility of sustainable practices. We believe that by doing our part, we can improve the quality of our lives, preserve natural resources, and set future generations up for sustained success.”

Donate Your E-Waste!

Donating or recycling household electronics conserves our natural resources and avoids air and water pollution, as well as greenhouse gas emissions that are caused by manufacturing virgin materials. Donating your e-waste promotes a cleaner environment and reduces the need for landfills. Many communities have periodic e-waste collection events in shopping center parking lots or other easily accessible places. And if you’re in San Diego, you can find out how to donate to C2K here!