The people behind CSR at Cisco: How the Send IT Back mobile app contributes to a circular economy

We have a blog series that focuses on people behind corporate social responsibility (CSR) at Cisco. Each blog in this series highlights a different Cisco employee who works closely with CSR initiatives across the company..

Guided by our goal to help create a circular economy, Cisco strives to make products easier to reuse, refurbish, and recycle and for our customers to return to us to close the loop. Why is a circular economy important? Because the linear “take-make-throw” model, where products are made, bought and then thrown away, is unsustainable. It depletes our natural resources, creates too much waste and produces carbon emissions that contribute to climate change.

Fortunately, we have people at Cisco who are dedicated to accelerating our transition from a linear to a circular economy. Meet Kathy Mendoza, a member of Cisco’s reverse logistics team. It helps make the Cisco product take-back and reuse program more convenient for customers around the world. According to Kathy, reverse logistics can be seen as the engine of Cisco’s circular economy. His team helps companies return their products in a simple and secure way, helping them to reduce their impact on the planet.

Kathy was recently selected as one of four Sustainability championsQuarterly recognition for Cisco Supply Chain and Global Procurement Services employees who advance sustainable and ethical practices as part of their daily responsibilities.

I recently caught up with Kathy to learn more about her professional journey, what her team is doing to contribute to a circular economy, and how she helps her clients achieve their own sustainability goals.

What did you do before Cisco and what brought you to Cisco?

Kathy: I started my career at a very young age, straight out of high school. I worked as a technician and software developer in the semiconductor industry. I stayed there for four years before joining a company that built nuclear reactors and control rooms. I worked as a Wireman building and staging football field sized control room panels then moved to a Rubberman position doing power up tests to get the room ready for control to insert it in a nuclear power plant. After that, I took an entry-level role at IBM on the manufacturing floor and, using my previous experience, quickly moved into engineering, driving new product development for drives. hard. I then held several leadership roles in hard drive manufacturing, OEM sales and warranty returns, global supply chain planning and logistics, global reverse logistics, and warranty and repair. After rapid growth and increasing responsibilities, I was promoted to director, responsible for transforming the global IT organization, then supply chain planning and logistics.

I spent over 26 years there and retired. I took about a year and a half off, spent time with my family and travelled. Then people started contacting me for reverse logistics and supply chain consulting positions. I accepted a contract position at Cisco, helping to create and deploy communities of Cisco Quad employees throughout the supply chain organization.

Cisco became a good candidate for me and they hired me full time. The environment, work ethic and values ​​that Cisco has aligned with my values. I’ve been with Cisco for almost 12 years and have held several positions since I started. I started in the Partner Management and Sourcing group, then moved into Global Logistics as Communications Manager, then Network and Partner Services as Chief of Staff. Now I’m in reverse logistics, as a global asset recovery manager.

Can you tell me more about the reverse logistics team and your role within this team?

Kathy: At the World Economic Forum in 2018, our CEO partnered with the Platform for Accelerating the Circular Economy (PACE) by signing the Pledge of fixed assetscommitting to return the product 100% upon request, at no cost to our customers.

The Reverse Logistics team helps realize the vision set out in the pledge. My role, and that of my team, is to work with Cisco’s sales teams and customers globally, ensuring they are aware of our programs and facilitating customer returns.

We favor reuse over recycling and seek to partner with our recyclers to connect our recycled content to new manufacturing, including our own operations. Around the world, in every business, reverse logistics is about taking back goods and materials that you no longer need or want.

Tell me about Cisco’s commitment to product take-back and what it means for customers

Kathy: This means that any Cisco customer, anywhere in the world, can return their equipment to us when they are finished using it. We have a few different tools for this, and we recently released a guideso clients know which tool to use for their situation.

One tool that excites me is the Send IT Back app, which makes it very easy for customers to return material with just a few clicks on their smartphone.

What is the Send IT Back app?

Kathy: when we RELAUNCH our product take-back and reuse program in May 2020, we always wanted to give it an edge. One way we’re doing this is by expanding the availability of Cisco’s Send IT Back mobile app. It is a great tool and easy to use for people. Simply download the app, register, take a picture of the product you want to return, and a shipping agent will contact you to arrange pickup. And then the product is no longer in your hands. On April 5, we announcement that the application is now available foriOS andandroiddevices. In 2021, we expanded beyond the United States and the Netherlands, running a successful pilot in Germany, which enabled 27 European Union countries and the United Kingdom. Further expansion into other non-EU countries and Asia is planned for the second half of 2022.

What happens to equipment that goes through Send IT Back?

Kathy: There are two different options when we take back equipment: reuse and recycle. Everything that passes through the Send IT Back application is routed to our depots where it is stored in a secure location and we determine if it can be reused through Service, Cisco Refresh, or reused internally. If not, we send it to be recycled.

Today, we are able to reuse 80% of the product that we recover via Send IT Back. Overall, we reuse and recycle 99.9% of returns, helping our customers meet their sustainability goals and ensure responsible equipment disposal.

How does reusing and recycling IT equipment contribute to our customers’ sustainability goals?

Kathy: When you look at what different companies are trying to achieve when it comes to sustainability, more and more of our customers need this type of service. With the Send IT Back app, once the product is received, customers can download a report and track every PID, serial number and quantity they have returned, and keep this data as a record to show how they are performing more sustainably.

We contribute to our customers’ environmental goals by taking back more of their end-of-life products and ensuring that products are continually reused and recycled. We all want to make sure we are doing the right things from a circular economy perspective and for Mother Earth.

Is there anything you’re doing in your own life to be more sustainable, and if so, what advice do you have for others?

Kathy: I’m a big advocate of “reduce, reuse and recycle”. I do all the recycling I should do with all the products that come into my house. I carry my reusable bag with me, and have done so for a long time, even before many states decided to phase out plastic bags. I also volunteer with Save Our Shores to help clean up the beaches here in Santa Cruz, CA where I live. I donate all unused clothes to charities like Goodwill. I recycle my personal electronics and participate in a community garden project where homeless citizens can grow their own vegetables. Every weekend, a group of neighbors will come out with our grabbers, and we’ll pick up trash and plastics that tourists have left behind.

My advice to others is to educate yourself and learn what you can do personally, even in small steps. If you’re not already doing so, take any disposable items you may have and recycle them. Get involved in your community, find out what types of groups exist. Supporting your local farmers is another thing people can do. When thinking about sustainability and the circular economy, grabbing a reusable bag or a cup of coffee, going to a farmer’s market and supporting local growers is an easy way to make a difference.

Learn more about Cisco Circular economyinitiatives


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