by Scott Berinato

E-Waste: Cutting Trash out of the IT Department

Dec 01, 20052 mins
IT Leadership

As VP and CIO at United Technologies Corp. (UTC), John Doucette thought he had heard every complaint. But getting blamed for trash, as he was during a PC refresh four years ago, was something new. “At every business review, the guy who managed waste would say that he was over target,” Doucette remembers, “and he’d blame me.” Hardly surprising, considering that every computer arrives in a box, wrapped in plastic or packed with styrofoam peanuts, among other packaging. “You don’t realize how much trash is left behind,” he says.

So Doucette vowed that the next technology refresh would be boxless. He’s in the process of deploying 33,000 computers at 700 sites, and three-quarters of them will be shipped box-free. He’ll use the rest of the boxes to send old computers back to his vendor, CSC.

Here’s how the process works: Computer maker Dell ships the computers to a middleman, who removes and reuses the packaging. The middleman installs about 60 percent of the hard drive’s image on the UTC systems and puts them in specially designed crates, then ships them to UTC. UTC completes the software installation.

The process isn’t waste-free yet. Keyboards and mice are too delicate to be shipped in their birthday suits. But still, Doucette’s efforts have saved significant time, money and resources. (CSC has incorporated the savings into UTC’s contract.) “Smaller and less is better from everyone’s perspective. From a waste standpoint, a cost standpoint, with the cost of raw materials going up, our focus is on making this process less wasteful.”