Used IT needs a second life and our environment a decision

Managing director Daniel Büchle in an interview - What AfB does, why it is so successful and what the future looks like.

AfB non-profit GmbH carries out the re-marketing and recycling of decommissioned IT hardware from companies at 17 locations in Germany, Austria, France and Switzerland. Since 2004 the company has garnered a reputation for sustainable business practices and the integration of people with disabilities into the general job market. Here, AfB leads the way as a shining example: 49% of all our employees are people with disabilities.

What distinguishes AfB from its competitors in the market?
Daniel Büchle: “Doing business ecologically in the IT business is often perceived as complicated. As a trailblazer in this field we have been able to further develop the AfB processes over the last 13 years thanks to gaining more experience and new ideas. The entrepreneur Paul Cvilak also wants to prove that the integration of people with disabilities in the general job market can really be done. People with and without disabilities work at all levels of the company on equal footing, create success and add social and ecological value. Just as our motto says: social & green IT.”

What added values are we talking about?
Daniel Büchle: “Green surely is about protecting the earth’s climate. Our resale of used hardware is a reasonable option vs. buying new one. Decommissioned hardware from companies doesn’t have to end up in a landfill for hazardous waste. We are fighting for more awareness of what happens to hardware after the end of its service life. This way we can cut down substantially on electronic waste and thus also prevent new devices being made that would eat up resources and produce even more CO2. And something else is also true: Donating hardware to us or buying it really supports the integration of people with disabilities in our company and creates new jobs that are given without any prejudice to people with very different disabilities.

How do partners benefit and what can they expect of AfB?
Daniel Büchle: We issue an official CSR certificate to recognize our partner companies’ efforts in promoting environmental protection and inclusion together with us. You become a sponsor for the jobs you created for people with disabilities. In addition, we assist our partners in writing up their sustainability reports and provide meaningful key indicators for their own track record on the climate. Don’t forget that your hardware is processed by a professional team. There is the certified data deletion, the refurbishing of re-usable hardware and the recycling of those devices that cannot be resold. Instead of ending up on a landfill, we take old equipment apart and separate the components by materials type to cycle them back to the raw materials market. Our partner can communicate this level of responsibility with us to the public.”

What do customers like about the AfB Stores?
Daniel Büchle: “Our professional team. Right from the first exchange of words, our customers can feel that they are talking to trained sales staff. The minimum warranty of one year makes you feel reassured about the quality of our products. The decommissioned hardware undergoes a host of tests before it is ready for sale. Doing good when buying a desktop, laptop or mobile phone makes our customers happy. This way they can support equal opportunity for people with disabilities and contribute to the future protection of our environment. Our reasonable prices are particularly appealing to customers with a small budget. As a matter of fact, we think everybody should have access to digital media.

What does the future of IT hardware look like?
Daniel Büchle: “We always notice in conversations with our partners and in connection with our own CSR work how there is a rising awareness of the downstream supply chain. Responsible companies place great importance on their decommissioned hardware being re-marketed domestically and not exported into countries where it might be recycled unprofessionally. Plus, private customers want to buy technology with a clean conscience. So, it is not only companies that can appreciate the value of used hardware – be it the ecological or the social value.”