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Uni-Recycle’s more responsible computing | LesAffaires.com

Uni-Recycle’s services are free, both for businesses and citizens. (Photo: 123RF)

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT. Uni-Recycle oversees the recycling and recovery of computer equipment in Trois-Rivières. Six years after its opening, in 2016, the company has multiplied its number of employees by five, in addition to integrating several sustainable development practices into its corporate culture. All of this allows it to be more competitive today.

While he was a director in a computer company, Philippe Gignac noticed that this environment was facing a recycling problem. With a partner, Mikee Gervais, he then had the idea of ​​creating Uni-Recycle. “We started in a simple shipping container, without electricity,” recalls the one who holds the position of general manager. The company recovers joysticks, remote controls, photocopiers, computers… As long as it is a device “that plugs into the wall or is powered by batteries”. “We don’t want to put too many restrictions on what we take back,” he says. We want it to be simple for the person who wants to recycle.”

Uni-Reycle targets companies that produce a lot of IT waste. “We went directly to their homes and sorted the goods ourselves: we chose what we could resell for recycling or reuse,” says Philippe Gignac. Wishing to encourage ever more people to recycle, he has always left the door open to citizens. “They can come and deposit their objects directly in our warehouse,” he explains. We also have partners who pick up for us in Montreal, for example”.

Uni-Recycle’s services are free, both for businesses and citizens. Their popularity is such that the company has grown from 5 employees to soon 27 and its office-warehouse now reaches 20,000 square feet.

Evolve greener

By setting up Uni-Recycle, Messrs. Gignac and Gervais wanted to “have a great impact on the environment”.

“From the outset, we thought about sustainable development for our company, assures Philippe Gignac. For us, it is a duty of every human to take care of the environment. We must be responsible and have a positive impact, it is essential. Since 2016, the two co-founders have notably planted trees at various clients, on their own land and on that of the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières. To date, a thousand have been planted, but their goal for 2022 is to reach 10,000 plants planted.

Last year, the SME hired a quality and environment manager, Gabriel Hubert, responsible in particular for conforming Uni-Reycle to the ISO system, internationally recognized standards which include sustainable development. “ISO 14001 certifies that the company minimizes its impact on the environment”, emphasizes Gabriel Hubert. In collaboration with the team, he put down on paper all the practices of the company. Then they decided what could be improved. “My goal is to ensure that ISO standards are respected,” adds the manager. In concrete terms, this has led to more staff awareness.

The ISO 14001 standard also requires eco-responsible approaches during exceptional events. “If one of our trucks has an accident on the road and there is an oil spill, we have kits to store this oil so that it does not end up in the water”, he explains.

The acquisition of a cardboard press also proved to be an asset. “We recover a lot of cardboard and before, we sent it directly to recycling, but we realized that it was not really recycled in the end, explains responsible for quality and the environment. Now, we press our boxes ourselves, we make big bundles of them and that way, we are sure that it will be recycled.

Uni-Recycle has also just acquired the Blanco software, which is added to Salesforce. “These software allow us to be more efficient and faster both for collections and for upgrading equipment or erasing data,” explains Philippe Gignac. Indeed, Uni-Recycle now places more value on the revaluation and reuse of equipment, rather than its recycling. “By giving a second life, or by making efforts to achieve it, we postpone the end of life of the device, as well as the pollution linked to the purchase of a new one”, he underlines.

Benefits and recognitions

In 2021, the City of Trois-Rivières highlighted the efforts made by Uni-Recycle by granting it its certification in sustainable development. “Our goal is to highlight successes and encourage companies to incorporate sustainable practices,” says Cindy Provencher, Executive Director of the Sustainable Trois-Rivières Foundation, which manages this certification.

“If we think of money first, the environment is not always a meaningful choice; however, it pays off over time”, assures Philippe Gignac. Uni-Recycle is also showing exponential growth. “Last year, we made 250% of our turnover from the previous year. Each year, we multiply our growth by two or three!”

The SME’s goal is to recycle 1% of electronic waste in North America by 2030, or 83,000 tons of material. Financially independent since the beginning, Uni-Recycle has recently received funding for the acquisition of equipment enabling them to offer world-class services. “Before, we only had pleas of non-receipt, but now the financial institutions are interested in us, notes the managing director. Being eco-responsible pays off!”

Uni-Recycle oversees the recycling and recovery of computer equipment in Trois-Rivières. Six years after its opening, in 2016, the company has multiplied its number of employees by five, in addition to integrating several sustainable development practices into its corporate culture. All of this allows it to be more competitive today.

While he was a director in a computer company, Philippe Gignac noticed that this environment was facing a recycling problem. With a partner, Mikee Gervais, he then had the idea of ​​creating Uni-Recycle. “We started in a simple shipping container, without electricity,” recalls the one who holds the position of general manager. The company recovers joysticks, remote controls, photocopiers, computers… As long as it is a device “that plugs into the wall or is powered by batteries”. “We don’t want to put too many restrictions on what we take back,” he says. We want it to be simple for the person who wants to recycle.”

Uni-Reycle targets companies that produce a lot of IT waste. “We went directly to their homes and sorted the goods ourselves: we chose what we could resell for recycling or reuse,” says Philippe Gignac. Wishing to encourage ever more people to recycle, he has always left the door open to citizens. “They can come and deposit their objects directly in our warehouse,” he explains. We also have partners who pick up for us in Montreal, for example”.

Uni-Recycle’s services are free, both for businesses and citizens. Their popularity is such that the company has grown from 5 employees to soon 27 and its office-warehouse now reaches 20,000 square feet.

Evolve greener

By setting up Uni-Recycle, Messrs. Gignac and Gervais wanted to “have a great impact on the environment”.

“From the outset, we thought about sustainable development for our company, assures Philippe Gignac. For us, it is a duty of every human to take care of the environment. We must be responsible and have a positive impact, it is essential. Since 2016, the two co-founders have notably planted trees at various clients, on their own land and on that of the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières. To date, a thousand have been planted, but their goal for 2022 is to reach 10,000 plants planted.

Last year, the SME hired a quality and environment manager, Gabriel Hubert, responsible in particular for conforming Uni-Reycle to the ISO system, internationally recognized standards which include sustainable development. “ISO 14001 certifies that the company minimizes its impact on the environment”, emphasizes Gabriel Hubert. In collaboration with the team, he put down on paper all the practices of the company. Then they decided what could be improved. “My goal is to ensure that ISO standards are respected,” adds the manager. In concrete terms, this has led to more staff awareness.

The ISO 14001 standard also requires eco-responsible approaches during exceptional events. “If one of our trucks has an accident on the road and there is an oil spill, we have kits to store this oil so that it does not end up in the water”, he explains.

The acquisition of a cardboard press also proved to be an asset. “We recover a lot of cardboard and before, we sent it directly to recycling, but we realized that it was not really recycled in the end, explains responsible for quality and the environment. Now, we press our boxes ourselves, we make big bundles of them and that way, we are sure that it will be recycled.

Uni-Recycle has also just acquired the Blanco software, which is added to Salesforce. “These software allow us to be more efficient and faster both for collections and for upgrading equipment or erasing data,” explains Philippe Gignac. Indeed, Uni-Recycle now places more value on the revaluation and reuse of equipment, rather than its recycling. “By giving a second life, or by making efforts to get there, we postpone the end of life of the device, as well as the pollution linked to the purchase of a new one”, he underlines.

Benefits and recognitions

In 2021, the City of Trois-Rivières highlighted the efforts made by Uni-Recycle by granting it its certification in sustainable development. “Our goal is to highlight successes and encourage companies to incorporate sustainable practices,” says Cindy Provencher, Executive Director of the Sustainable Trois-Rivières Foundation, which manages this certification.

“If we think of money first, the environment is not always a meaningful choice; however, it pays off over time”, assures Philippe Gignac. Uni-Recycle is also showing exponential growth. “Last year, we made 250% of our turnover from the previous year. Each year, we multiply our growth by two or three!”

The SME’s goal is to recycle 1% of electronic waste in North America by 2030, or 83,000 tons of material. Financially independent since the beginning, Uni-Recycle has recently received funding for the acquisition of equipment enabling them to offer world-class services. “Before, we only had pleas of non-receipt, but now the financial institutions are interested in us, notes the managing director. Being eco-responsible pays off!”


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