A second life for digital devices

Implenia is involved in several projects aimed at reducing electronic waste. As well as helping to conserve precious resources, two examples from Sweden and Germany demonstrate that these can also have a social benefit.

If you think of construction tools, you probably think of things like hammers, trowels and saws. But these days digital tools play just as important a role on building sites. Roughly 10,000 computers, laptops and mobile devices are registered with Implenia’s central IT department.

Essential though these things may be, however, there is a catch: they use valuable resources, and a lot of CO2 is generated in their manufacture. And since they are only used for an average of three to five years, their environmental profile isn’t great. Devices are often replaced even if they aren’t broken or completely obsolete.

To protect the climate and preserve raw materials, Implenia’s country organisations in Germany and Sweden have signed up to projects that generate environmental and social benefits from decommissioned digital devices. Differing conditions in the two countries mean that different approaches are being taken.

In Germany, Implenia has already been in partnership with AfB since 2012. This organisation refurbishes older devices and sells them on. Any unusable components are recycled. The not-for-profit company mainly employs people with a disability, and received the 2021 German Sustainability Award for its work. Implenia donated a total of 735 IT and mobile devices to AfB in 2020,  around half of which were refurbished and sold. As a result of its cooperation with Implenia, the organisation was able to create one additional job for a disabled person.

Since 2020, IT equipment and mobile phones that Implenia Sweden can no longer use have been made available for employees to buy. All of the proceeds are directed to the “Vi-Skogen” organisation, which plants trees in East Africa. 600 new trees were planted in 2020 as a result of Implenia’s donations. The campaign helps local people as well as the environment, creating jobs and increasing the fertility of agricultural land. This in turn generates more income, combats poverty and promotes an equal opportunity society.