Tackling the E-Waste Crisis: An Inspiring Conversation with CircleIT’s President, Will Cohen

Tackling the E-Waste Crisis: An Inspiring Conversation with CircleIT’s President, Will Cohen

Will Cohen, the President of CircleIT, is a leader imbued with passion, vision, and drive. He is responsible for CircleIT’s holistic business transformation, fostering a forward-thinking B Corporation that has centered its future on building a circular economy. But he isn’t going at it alone and sees the fabric of CircleIT woven with the company’s equally passionate employees, a rapidly evolving clientele, and its social impact partners who are mitigating climate change and bridging the digital divide. Will and CircleIT are on a quest to raise the standard of how corporations interact with the planet, people, and profit.

“Skate to where the puck is going to be.” – Wayne Gretsky – Will Cohen

Consumers and stakeholder groups have been turning the temperature up on corporations to become forces for good, but traditional ITAD companies have done little to serve those needs. CircleIT’s environmental, social, and governance (ESG) program was Will’s attempt to do so. “Our industry is a service to our clients. As businesses try to become forces of good, CircleIT needs to be responsive to that,” Will stated, “…Our ESG program is about more than handing out checks to clients for sold gear, but unlocking an entirely new category of value for our clients. Value that enhances our client’s public perception, helps them meet their sustainability goals, and secures their data via a variety of onsite and offsite erasure services.” Instead of traditional revenue-sharing agreements that prioritize quick profits via resale or recycling, CircleIT’s ESG program gives corporations the opportunity to claim CircleIT’s climate and social impact on their sustainability reports. And what Will believed at first was going to be a hard sell for existing clients has turned out to be something that many existing clients are opting into and is attracting a large number of new clients to CircleIT.

In tandem with its ESG program, Will and CircleIT introduced another program that bucked the trend of traditional ITAD, a digital offering. With COVID forcing workers into remote settings in droves, Will understood that the standard way of having corporations ship all electronics at once from a central hub would not suffice, and companies needed a more flexible disposal solution. By providing a digital solution, not only remote workers but small and medium-sized businesses and everyday consumers were able to access CircleIT’s ITAD services. Now everyone can securely and sustainably dispose of their electronic devices. “Our digital solution was, is now, and will continue to be a huge source of scalability for our commitments to circularity and data protection.”

Both the ESG program and the digital offering laid a foundation that cemented CircleIT’s leadership but also set the stage for a bright future.

“Everything excites me about CircleIT’s future.” – Will Cohen

Everything might excite Will, but achieving climate neutrality, put a spark in his eyes.

Will is looking forward to a future where CircleIT can claim to offer its clients a completely carbon neutral technology disposition solution. “We want to measure emissions from every step of the process and we want to partner with companies to build solutions that neutralize emissions.” Essentially, when either a consumer or a Fortune 500 company uses CircleIT to dispose of electronic devices, Will does not want harming the climate to be the cost of doing business. Achieving climate neutrality wouldn’t just benefit the climate but would also embolden CircleIT’s ESG program. “Being able to measure the emissions of our entire supply chain would help our corporate clients measure their own emissions and achieve their climate commitments.” He continued, “Corporations around the world struggle to measure the full scope of their emissions. If CircleIT can be a missing piece in emissions accounting while encouraging corporations to be a force for good, CircleIT’s future will remain very bright.”

“People are at the core of what we are trying to build.” – Will Cohen

Will swells with passion when he discusses his CircleIT leadership team and ever dedicated staff. “The passion of the people at CircleIT is the most rewarding thing for me. It keeps the pulse going.” The staff and leadership team have coalesced around Will’s vision for a more circular and socially conscious ITAD company in line with the principles of being a B Corp. “The B Corp values that we love to celebrate are what makes doing the work more fun and meaningful. And the comradery you see when it is around a common cause. When you see a common path, it increases morale and feeling of well-being.” And now Will has added one more member of his leadership team to do this fun and meaningful work with, Heather Loebner, CircleIT’s new Vice President of Sustainability. “Heather brings such a wealth of experience and expertise in ESG and corporate citizenship. And I know that with her on board carbon neutrality is only a stone’s throw away.”

But when Will talks about people it isn’t just his colleagues that he is discussing. “Building something that is bigger than our company is about helping people today and protecting generations of tomorrow.” Part of that work is bridging the digital divide. “Too many people and especially those in underserved communities are not able to participate in remote learning and modern workforces, and CircleIT wants to change that.” Through partnering with local and national organizations, CircleIT is taking what once were broken or damaged devices and turning them into opportunities for those less fortunate.

“We don’t own this. We want to spur change across our industry.” – Will Cohen

CircleIT isn’t trying to be a lone wolf in creating a better tomorrow. In fact, CircleIT wants other industry leaders to see the value in ESG and Sustainability and to incorporate those into their ITAD services.  “Without full buy-in across the entire industry, CircleIT might not be able to accomplish its dream of a fully circular ITAD industry.”

By providing a model for ITAD companies to emulate, Will Cohen once again displayed his aptitude for leadership. Because being a good leader isn’t about reaching the mountain top, it is about paving a path for everyone to join you.