The world is changing. Over the past decade, sustainability has come to the forefront of private discourse, public debate, and collective action.
Part of this conversation centers on two distinct yet interconnected challenges for the sustainability movement: the digital divide and e-waste. The digital divide, or the inequality created by the gap between those that have full access to information and communication technologies and those that do not, partly stems from environmentally irresponsible use of digital technologies. The amount of electronic waste has become the most rapidly growing waste problem in the world: humans generate more than 50 million metric tons of e-waste every year, which is equivalent to throwing out 1,000 laptops every second. These two problems are enormous obstacles when it comes to keeping people connected.
Although much progress has been made, we are yet to reach our goal of transitioning to a fully connected world. For this reason, at Enel, sustainability is at the core of everything we do. We continually uphold the guidelines of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by integrating environmental, social and economic dimensions into our business strategy in order to create a brighter future for people and the planet.
As such, our Sustainability and Circular Economy, Global Digital Solutions, Sustainability and Institutional Affairs Italy business lines have launched our latest initiative, “Give your old PC a new life, help those in need”, to reduce inequalities and promote responsible use of resources. This synergistic solution simultaneously addresses the social problem of the digital divide and the environmental problem of e-waste.
Creating new life from digital waste
“Most changes come from the bottom up,” explains Ernesto Ciorra, Chief Innovability® Officer at Enel. He continues: “If we don’t involve people and allow them to make their own contribution, we’re losing out on huge potential.” Getting our people involved is exactly our goal with this latest project to promote the circular economy of digital devices, ensuring the life extension of equipment through reuse.
In the project, Enel employees are provided with a new personal computer (PC) every four years; when it’s time for a new computer, the employee can choose whether to purchase or return the device. If they choose to return the device and it is still in good condition, it can be donated to two associations: Banco Informatico Tecnologico e Biomedico (BITeB) or Informatici senza Frontiere, which refurbish the equipment and then distribute the used computers to public and private NPOs (non-profit organizations).
Bridging the digital gap
“When doing business, we always have a great opportunity to better the world,” affirms Ciorra.
Through targeted internal communications, Enel has received equipment contributions across all its business lines. To date, the company has donated 263 PCs with a total market value of €38,600. Twenty of these devices have been donated to Ukrainian refugees. This continued campaign reinforces Enel’s commitment to supporting communities in the countries where it operates and other global ecosystems in need.
Antonio Ganzerli, Enel Initiative Leader, concludes: “By giving PCs a second chance, we can both contribute to building a circular economy and set in motion the beginning of something new. Reusing physical equipment also comes with social benefits because by reducing e-waste, we also guarantee that communities are connected, providing opportunities for all to enjoy a better, greener planet.”