Before the pandemic we globally created 53.6 million metric tons of electronic waste every year. And with so many companies deciding to give up some, if not all, their office spaces as the move to home working becomes permanent, large amounts of commercial technology are becoming redundant.
The good news is that the Global E-waste Monitor in 2020 highlighted that Europe is the continent with the highest documented e-waste collection and recycling rate at just shy of 43%. The bad news is that we also generate the most kg of e-waste per capita at 16.3kg.
It’s estimated that up to 60% of businesses in Europe are already planning to allow their staff to continue to work from home – so what’s going to happen to those desktops that are now laptops? Where are all those servers and storage systems, not to mention the miles and miles of cabling, going to go as businesses move their tech stack to a Cloud-based working model? Approx 84% of companies purchased additional hardware to allow their staff to work remotely which has created a surplus of extremely worrying proportions.
Dispose Responsibility – there is no “away”
It’s safe to say that businesses, now more than ever, have a responsibility to use and dispose of their surplus IT sustainably to prevent their old tech being tipped into ever larger landfill sites. However, there is still some confusion about how to dispose of old devices responsibly.
The first thing to remember is that old technology comes under the WEEE 2013 UK regulations. So, when looking for a specialist disposal and recycling company you want to ensure they’re operating under these regs. You also want reassurance that the waste you’re paying them for is either treated by them in a registered ATF (Authorised Treatment Facility) site or is sent to one of their outsourced and approved downstream treatment facilities. Finally, ask to see their current ISO14001 Environmental Management System certification to reassure yourself that they’re monitored by a governing body with stringent review processes.
But there are more options available to you other than just paying a company to take your problem away.
What are the options and what are the benefits to your business?
The Circular Economy
Rather than a simplistic model where technology is purchased, used and then disposed of, companies are turning towards a model based on a circular economy where devices are reused,refurbed and kept in circulation longer instead of being dumped in landfill. A key element of a circular economy is the involvement of manufacturers. For it to work at its optimum, major electronic companies must incorporate these principles into their R & D phases and produce equipment that lasts longer and is made with more components that are 100% recyclable.
As you’d expect from a company where innovation is in their DNA, Apple takes an audacious approach to sustainability and has publicly committed to all their products being carbon neutral by 2030. A plan we have 100% confidence they’ll achieve and yet another reason to buy Macs for your business.
Brand and Budget
You can also reduce your IT budget by purchasing refurbished products. And let’s not forget the benefits to your brand image by taking a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) stance and donating your old tech to worthy causes close to your staff and company’s heart. Your company may have a charity of the year that they support and who would benefit from a bank of PCs. And if you give your Marketing Team a heads up that you’re doing this it can give you free column inches as well as an advantage over your competitors.
Dr Logic have recently re-gifted 20 MacBooks to Exeter College on behalf of one of their clients, an international company with multiple digital brands. This not only gave the college an opportunity to reach out to local media but provided top quality tech to their less well off students – AND kept 20 devices out of landfill. Donating your tech to a needy cause is a win-win-win. There may be a small cost incurred to get your IT Support company to wipe the computers and there may be courier costs incurred but this could be offset against your PR budget.
Rethink – and reuse your old business IT
Given the rising awareness of sustainability amongst consumers (91 per cent of global consumers expect businesses to operate responsibly to address social and environmental issues), it’s the right thing, and the sensible thing for companies to take responsibility for the effects of their e-waste.