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Balancing Security and Sustainability

Road side e-waste collection bins are popping up everywhere in an effort to keep e-waste out of the landfill, but can you really trust that these e-waste collection centers will make sure your data stays private? Do you know what they plan to do with what has been placed into their bins? Where it will go? Who else will handle it? Will it be recycled?

Asking these questions is an important part of selecting where to drop off your e-waste. It can be discouraging when all you want to do is get these items out of your house, while protecting your privacy and ensuring it doesn’t end up in the landfill, or worse sitting in a pile on the side of the road in another country. Last year, we decided to take this burden off of our employees and hold an e-waste collection to ensure their personal e-waste was securely and responsibly recycled with our approved e-waste partner. Our employees in Waterloo, Ottawa and Mississauga brought in 2087 KG of e-waste, which included 199 hard drives which were degaussed in front of employees to ensure all private data was erased prior to it leaving our property.

Approving Vendors to Meet Our Security and Sustainability Requirements

At BlackBerry, security and sustainability requirements balance one another as they work to achieve the same goal. Transparency in how our e-waste is being handled, who is touching it and where it is going. Our robust approval process validates potential waste vendors against a long list of requirements, from perimeter fencing, secure storage and shred size to downstream vendor view, ensuring waste remains in the economic region in which it was generated and a review of government permits to receive and handle waste. If a vendor doesn’t meet both our security and sustainability requirements, they do not become a BlackBerry vendor. No exceptions.

Reducing the Carbon Footprint of our E-Waste Recycling

One of our sustainability requirements that all waste vendors must meet is related to the location of their downstream vendors.  All waste, intact or even when broken down to the commodity level, must remain in the economic region in which BlackBerry generated it. This means that if a laptop is coming from our Waterloo location, it must be securely and responsibly recycled in its entirety within Canada. The only exception granted is if there is no market for a commodity within the economic region.

Keeping the Planet (and Your Data) Clean

Electronic devices such as cell phones, laptops, and hard drives contain a mix of toxic heavy metals like lead, mercury, cadmium and beryllium, polluting PVC plastic, and hazardous chemicals such as flame retardants which can be harmful to human health and the environment. These alone are reasons enough to properly dispose of these items, but there’s an even greater threat looming than the one to nature – the threat to your personal data.

Criminals often search e-waste for credit card numbers, financial statements, and digital identification documents, banking on people simply throwing away old electronics without properly erasing the data on them. This extends beyond personal data when you begin to frame this in the context of an enterprise, where the leaking of confidential data could result in millions of dollars lost for a company. This is not only an issue facing individuals and business. In fact, there has even been reports of U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, the Transportation Security Administration and Homeland Security data being found on hard drives in Agbogbloshie, an e-waste center in Ghana.

This is why we go to great lengths to ensure any of the electronics we recycle have been properly wiped of their data, and that the vendors we work with for e-waste disposal have strict requirements for ensuring all electronics are properly shredded.

BlackBerry’s Commitment to Being Green

While BlackBerry takes great strides in ensuring that employee and company e-waste are properly disposed of and recycled, this is just one of the many initiatives we implement as part of our commitment to benefiting the environment. Our e-waste program has collected countless old electronics, but did you know BlackBerry has also been named as one of Canada’s Green Employers? Or that our Global Environment team has been recognized by Canada’s Clean50 for their outstanding work to make BlackBerry a more environmentally conscious company? How about the fact that BlackBerry has been a long-standing member of the Carbon Disclosure Project, providing and implementing insights to reduce emissions and climate change? These are just a few of the efforts BlackBerry has made over the years to not only help our world become more connected, but also help it become more sustainable.

To learn more about how BlackBerry is minimizing environmental impact through a variety of programs in product sustainability, supply chain and corporate carbon footprint, visit our Environmental Programs page.

Jennifer McLaughlin

About Jennifer McLaughlin

Jennifer McLaughlin currently serves as the Global Environment Manager at BlackBerry. She developed the first ever Commuting Action Plan by a Waterloo Region Corporation aiming for a 15% reduction in BlackBerry’s Drive Alone Rate, which so far has dropped the “drive alone” rate by 4%, incentivizing employees to take transit, walk or bike, and in year 1 saved 5.3 tonnes of CO2. She has also challenged employees to look for opportunities to not only minimize waste but eliminate it completely and the BlackBerry Head Office in Waterloo increasing their waste diversion rate from 62.04% in 2013 to 93.11% in 2016.