Brief:

Somerset Council wanted to reuse laptops that were end of life and being replaced by XMA Limited as part of a refresh project and to give the old laptops to young people, who were leaving care and going into apprenticeships or higher education.

However, Somerset Council needed to conform with their disposal policy of complying with the Data Protection Act, ensuring that all data bearing devices are overwritten or physically destroyed and adhere to the European WEEE Regulations.

XMA Limited provided all the new equipment and tasked Concept Management to assist with the disposals. Somerset Council wanted to ensure there was a seamless process of new installations and redundant equipment being appropriately dealt with. Single points of contact, auditable closed-loop processes and for XMA and Concept to be able to demonstrate compliance were the objectives of the project.

Work:

XMA and Concept were able to take redundant laptops from the waste stream, overwrite the data, refurbish the laptops and set up the devices, ready to be sent to the council’s care leavers.

We believe this has been a true partnership, as all parties have pushed within their own organisations, to develop innovative and creative ideas to circumvent the traditional ways of recycling.

This has allowed the team to give young people, who could not afford to buy their own, laptops that otherwise would have been recycled. Forget waste minimisation, we now have laptops that are being re-used, have a meaningful second life, coveted, looked after, allow learning and are bringing pleasure.

Disposing of redundant IT and end of life computers safely, securely and compliantly is not new but the thing that takes this initiative beyond current good practice is the determination of staff at Somerset Council to re-use and utilise the laptops for a better purpose. The easiest, most hassle-free route would have been to task its partners with just disposing of the equipment, however, the team felt strongly that if the laptops could be put to better use than just being recycled.

The project team at XMA also believed that this could be achieved. Concept Management’s standard mode of operation was to ensure complete data security and reputation protection when disposing of redundant IT equipment and they needed a complete overhaul of their processes to make this project work.

Many companies can facilitate this project quite simply by taking the laptops back, overwriting and returning the laptops to the clients and charging the client for the work done.

The challenge with this project was to do it free of charge.

The project team of Somerset Council, XMA and Concept developed an innovative way processing IT equipment cost-effectively to ensure we could give laptops to the cart leavers whilst providing a robust, secure disposal service.

Many departments came together to make this happen. Somerset Council’s Facilities team, Procurement, the IT department, the Information Governance team, XMA and Concept’s project team.

The goal of the council was to change mindsets, this required a complete buy-in from everyone involved in the project, from management through to the care workers who gave the laptops to the care leavers.

The dynamics in the team were clear, Somerset Council outlined their goals, XMA acted as facilitator’s and Concept processed the material. It was fundamental to the task that the lines of communication were clear and everyone understood the roles, from developing an online portal for equipment request, installation schedules, collection dates and the processing of the laptops, to getting them back to the care workers.

Results:

The impact of this whole process has been a positive one, the goals quite simply were to take end of life IT equipment and put it to good use. Did we do what we set out to do? Yes, this was achieved and was deemed by the whole project team a success. Did we change the world? No, but we helped and will continue to help the care leavers and their ability to go into higher education or their apprenticeships with tools they couldn’t normally afford.

The project team’s goals were built around taking current resources and reusing them. A desire to take something from the waste stream and re-utilise and to make somebody’s life easier and hopefully better. There was never a desire to fundamentally change the council’s green credentials, be greener or recycle more but a plan to give care leaver’s a tool they can use once they leave the council’s care.

The positives to come out of the project are clear, more reuse, meaning less waste being disposed. As a project team we feel we have met expectations, we set a challenging goal and worked hard to get there.

Other than the obvious benefits the partnership has brought, care leavers with laptops, the project has shown that we can, as a team be creative with projects, set goals, work together to achieve them and change ways companies operate.

We are so happy with this project, that we have rolled the programme out to a second large public sector central government organisation.

The ultimate stakeholders in this project have been the care leavers and they have been delighted. The goal was to give laptops away, whilst still maintaining data security and integrity of the council’s reputation and not affecting installations of new equipment and not affecting the council’s day to day working.

Somerset Council are delighted that they have achieved what they set out to do at the initial meetings, XMA Limited are delighted that the processes did not affect their installations during the refresh and Concept Management are delighted to facilitate the whole process.

The smiles on the care leaver’s faces when they receive a laptop makes this project a success.

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