Eighteen months after launch, a partnership between financier Quadrent and BNZ is reducing e-waste by repurposing corporate technology for local communities.
Four hundred ex-lease laptops have been donated to colleges from organisations such as PwC, Bell Gully, ANZCO, Buddle Findlay, EnviroNZ and Te Puni Kōkiri - Ministry of Māori Development since 2022.
Recipients include Te Wharekura O Arowhenua and Aurora College (Invercargill), Tōnui Collab (Tairāwhiti) for students of flood affected schools including Te Aute College (Central Hawkes Bay) and Hukarere Girls College (Eskdale) and most recently Tangaroa College (Ōtara, South Auckland).
However, Quadrent’s vision is to donate 20,000 laptops a year to students in need and is targeting further partnerships with organisations who can move that needle, Quadrent New Zealand general manager Gary Nalder said.
Quadrent is working with customers to buy back some of their current laptop fleet, so they can be donated to digital inclusion projects next year. This could potentially number in excess of a thousand laptops.
New Zealanders still generate three times the global average of e-waste annually: 19.2kgs per person per year.
“Traditional supply chain, procurement and ownership models associated with technology simply aren’t delivering what we need them to because they contribute to two of New Zealand’s most pressing problems: waste and digital inequality,” Nalder said.
One in ten New Zealanders are excluded from performing basic technology tasks, he said.
Quadrent's Green Lease allowed businesses to fund technology purchases via a BNZ-backed green lease. At the end of the devices’ business lifecycle it is passed back to Quadrent which recycles and redistributes the technology, donating a portion of high-spec and high-quality devices into communities that need them.
“We’re giving large organisations a way of transforming the way technology is used especially when it comes to reducing e-waste and emissions and helping vulnerable communities around New Zealand get online and take part in the digital economy,” Nalder said.
Only half of the 800 students at Otara's Tangaroa College, for instance, had access to a computer that enabled them to complete their learning.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, devices provided by the government for in-home learning were being shared by up to twleve people, with students submitting homework at 4am because this was the only time they had access to a device.
“I can’t tell you how much difference it makes ... being able to set up a class and know that everybody is tuned into you as opposed to using their own mobile phone or sharing a chromebook,” said Rob Downie, head of health and physical education at Tangaroa College.
Now, the school is able to provide every student with a device in class so that they can focus on their work individually.
Nalder said he believed increased uptake was coming as a result of momentum around ESG.
“Consumer demand, investor pressure and global challenges like climate change have accelerated a focus on ESG for long-term success," he said.
"ESG principles are now central to business strategies that promote sustainable and responsible practices."
Technology is also managed throughout its lifecycle to ensure it is securely wiped and environmentally repurposed, recycled or redistributed compliant with cybersecurity and ESG policies.