Sage Sustainable Electronics Changes the Lifecycle of Our Devices

How the Columbus company wants you to ‘reuse more and recycle less’ with your electronics

It’s like clock work — each year we all wait for the newest model of our favorite devices to be announced. It’s something both consumers and companies have become accustomed to. For the individual consumer, that may mean simply updating the generation of their smartphone. But for many businesses navigating the constantly changing landscape of data security and corporate regulations, that can result in retaining a surplus of outdated hardware. Sage Sustainable Electronics wants to change that by helping companies consolidate their technology and find new ways to use it productively.

“Sage is focused on making the world more sustainable by extending the life of electronics,” said CEO Robert Houghton. “We’ve been helping large enterprise customers responsibly retire their technology for almost 30 years. We do a lot more repair and refurbishment because there is a significant amount of value left in surplus IT equipment and our goal is to find a second user for as much of the material we handle as possible. We guarantee that every bit of material that is not suitable for a second user is properly recycled to indemnify our customers for both data security and environmental liabilities.”

Before Sage was created, Houghton and his business partner, Jill Vaske, brought their passion for sustainability to life through the recycling firm Redemtech. When the company was sold in 2012, the pair sought to pivot their focus by honing in on the hardware challenges facing modern businesses.

“We wanted to take what we learned at Redemtech and update it for the latest technology and industry requirements, ” he said. “For example, requirements around security have become much more rigorous. Requirements around ESG, or environmental, social and governance criteria, have become more important to our customers. So Sage is an evolution of what we learned to add more value to 21st century companies that are grappling with these issues all at once. Now, Sage makes it simple and secure to manage surplus technology.”

To simplify lifecycle management for their customers and provide a clear picture of the environmental impact their work has throughout multiple corporate areas, Sage offers measurable assessments of their work through their Bloom Report.

“Reuse generates even more greenhouse gas savings than recycling does. So we use the Bloom Report to show our stakeholder groups how our work helps their climate initiatives and produces significantly better financial returns. It’s this flowering of value that is created out of surplus or obsolete equipment that comes from putting everything possible back into future use.”

But Sage doesn’t just help their customers give back to the planet. Many of the organizations they work with are part of their GoodTogether program, which marries environmental sustainability with digital equity. Sage works in tandem with their corporate partners to fulfill their social mission of making technology available for everyone.

“A significant amount of the technology that we refurbish is donated on behalf of our customers to nonprofits,” Houghton said. “Some local Ohio companies, like Huntington, NetJets and many others, have participated in the program and are very generous donors of technology, both to nonprofits and low-income communities. We’re passionate because we know we’re making the world more sustainable and these companies are having a major social impact in their communities.”

Sage’s impact has grown on a national level and beyond. The company works for customers across all 50 states and globally from Hong Kong to Singapore to Australia. And while the scale of their sustainability work is far-reaching, their Ohio roots will always remain a source of pride for the company.

“Ohio is a very business-friendly state,” Houghton said. “We’re based in Columbus and there’s a good ability here to attract a really high quality labor force. Logistically, Ohio is extremely well-suited for a company like ours that’s trying to conduct national business. Beyond the business-friendly climate in the state and the people, we also love Ohio because of its natural beauty. It’s just a wonderful place to live and I can’t think of a better place to start and grow  a business.”

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