Re­cy­cling for char­ity

Don’t know what to with your old PC? Give it away to the un­der­priv­i­leged.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - TECHNOLOGY -

NADZIF Ramli dropped out of school in Year Four be­cause he wasn’t in­ter­ested in study­ing. Then a friend told the boy from Pengkalan Hulu, Perak, about a study pro­gramme where he could get hands- on time with PCs.

“I had never seen a PC be­fore,” Nadzif, now 27, says. “When I saw it, it was so in­ter­est­ing. It was dif­fi­cult to learn but I wanted to know ev­ery­thing about it, in­clud­ing the cod­ing.”

The pro­gramme is run by Sols Tech, a so­cial en­ter­prise un­der hu­man­i­tar­ian or­gan­i­sa­tion Sols 24/ 7. Sols Tech teaches un­der­served com­mu­nity kids to re­fur­bish com­put­ers for other un­der­served com­mu­ni­ties through­out the coun­try. The kids get free ac­com­mo­da­tion and food for an 18- month train­ing pe­riod.

Since 2008, the or­gan­i­sa­tion has trained nearly 1,400 kids to do both hard­ware and soft­ware re­fur­bish­ment. It dis­trib­utes the re­fur­bished PCs through or­gan­i­sa­tions such as YouthCorp Malaysia, which has out­reach pro­grammes for the orang asli, and the Batu Grace Chil­dren’s Home or­phan­age.

Sols 24/ 7 founder and CEO Raj Rid­van Singh be­lieves that Malaysians still don’t see the power that used com­put­ers can give the un­der­priv­iliged in Malaysia.

And there are a LOT of used com­put­ers around: ac­cord­ing to Sols Tech, some four mil­lion com­put­ers are dis­carded in Malaysia ev­ery year.

This is huge con­sid­er­ing that there are still 10 mil­lion Malaysians out there who don’t have ac­cess to com­put­ers, which means the prob­lem can only get big­ger in the fu­ture.

Sols Tech re­ceives about 150 PCs a month from var­i­ous com- pa­nies, and these 100- odd stu­dents re­fur­bish them af­ter be­ing taught the ba­sics of how the de­vices work. “We have the ca­pac­ity to re­fur­bish 1,000 de­vices a month,” says Raj.

The re­fur­bish­ment ser­vice isn’t lim­ited to PCs; it also in­cludes stor­age de­vices, lap­tops and hand­phones.

Typ­i­cally, 70% of the PCs Sols Tech re­ceives are in work­ing or­der. The re­main­ing 30% are re­fur­bished with new parts that are sourced cheaply. Parts that can’t be reused, like cer­tain com­po­nents on the moth­er­board, are sent to re­cy­cling cen­tres to be dis­as­sem­bled and re­turned to raw ma­te­rial form.

The re­fur­bish­ing of the de­vice hard­ware takes less than half- an­hour per com­puter. It is the soft­ware re­fur­bish­ment that is time con­sum­ing, tak­ing about 10 hours as data needs to be deleted and the op­er­at­ing sys­tem ( in most cases, Win­dows 7) need to be re­in­stalled.

“These re­fur­bished de­vices can be used for another three to four years,” says Raj.

If you live in the Klang Val­ley, you can drop off e- de­vices at three points: Putrajaya, Sun­gai Besi and Segam­but. For more in­for­ma­tion, go to sols247. org/ sols- tech. The re­fur­bish­ment busi­ness

De­vice re­fur­bish­ment en­ti­ties aren’t just lim­ited to char­ity or­gan­i­sa­tions, though.

Com­mer­cial de­vice re­fur­bish­ment com­pany APR Elec­tronic Ser­vice Sdn Bhd has been in the busi­ness for 15 years. Its se­nior

man­ager, Danny Ng, says that about 20% of PC shops sells re­fur­bished PCs – “There’s a mar­ket for re­fur­bished prod­uct.”

The com­pany re­fur­bishes 300 PCs a month and sells them to brick and mor­tar re­tail out­lets as well as on­line sites like Lazada and 11Street. These PCs are typ­i­cally three to four years old and can last another four years. It also sells re­fur­bished iPad Airs that re­tail for RM799, about half the price of a new one. APR keep costs down by re­plac­ing faulty chips on a moth­er­board.

“A new moth­er­board can cost over RM1,000. In­stead of throw­ing it away be­cause a chip on it is faulty, we can re­place that par­tic­u­lar chip with a new one,” ex­plains Ng.

The com­pany pays RM50 to RM200 for PCs and RM100 to RM450 for lap­tops that it usu­ally gets from com­pa­nies.

“Our busi­ness has gone up 15% since GST,” Ng says, re­fer­ring to how con­sumers are tight­en­ing their belts and opt­ing for more eco­nom­i­cal op­tions.

Another com­pany, T- Pot Elec­tri­cal & Elec­tron­ics Sdn Bhd, has been re­fur­bish­ing and re­cy­cling old de­vices since 2005. Its se­nior gen­eral man­ager, Mandy Chan, says the com­pany re­ceives thou­sands of de­vices and then re­sells them.

“We re­fur­bish 80% of them. We strongly be­lieve in reusing ma­te­rial and we want to en­cour­age that cul­ture,” she says.

Waste not, want not.

– MUHAMAD SHARIL ROSLI/ The Star

Raj ( right) with his team re­fur­bish­ing de­vices at Sols Tech.

— AFDHAL IRSHAAD/ The Star

Nadzif ( left) and fel­low Sols Tech stu­dent Fred­er­ick Yail are learn­ing ev­ery­thing about the com­puter as part of Sols Tech’s re­fur­bish­ing team.

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