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E-waste matters: The importance of sustainable IT asset disposition

- 5 minute read

With technology evolving rapidly, companies regularly change and upgrade their IT assets to remain as competitive and efficient as possible.

Despite new technology's benefits to businesses worldwide, replacing assets more frequently can lead to an accumulation of electronic waste — or e-waste — if you aren't handling assets correctly.

With a three-to-five percent annual growth, e-waste represents the fastest-growing waste stream on the planet. Without responsible handling of end-of-life IT assets, this waste can have a devastating impact on the environment.

This is where IT asset disposition (ITAD) sustainability comes in, an essential practice to address the environmental concerns of e-waste.


Why ITAD sustainability matters

ITAD sustainability is a framework that focuses on reducing IT assets' environmental impact at the end of their useful life. It involves adequately handling IT equipment through a sustainable process considering the three Rs of sustainability: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. By adopting this approach, ITAD companies ensure IT assets are handled in a socially responsible and environmentally friendly matter.

When an IT asset loses its residual value, it must be recycled responsibly. ITAD companies approach handling these assets in several ways to maximize the value they recover from the asset while eliminating the environmental impact of any resulting e-waste. ITAD processes seek to ensure as little e-waste as possible, extracting value from end-of-life assets by harvesting parts. However, in some instances, e-waste is an unnegotiable by-product of ITAD.

In these instances, e-waste must be recycled correctly. When IT equipment is discarded without consideration for its environmental impact, it contributes to the growing global e-waste crisis — only 17.4% of e-waste is known to be collected and properly recycled worldwide.

E-waste in landfills poses a significant environmental threat; electronic devices contain hazardous materials such as lead, mercury and cadmium, which can pollute the air, soil and water, and cause long-term damage to public health and fragile ecosystems. 

Therefore, it's essential to adopt sustainable ITAD practices to minimize this impact. ITAD companies specialize in suitably handling retired equipment and mitigating the adverse effects of e-waste by following sustainable practices.


How do ITAD companies manage e-waste for end-of-life assets?

ITAD companies handle e-waste in various scenarios — when an IT asset reaches the end of its useful life, it's essential to recycle it adequately. Recycling IT equipment requires specialized processes that involve dismantling the device and extracting value from materials such as gold, silver and copper.

These materials can then be reused for new products, reducing environmental impact and the demand for virgin materials. Gold can be used in electronics and medical devices, silver in solar panels and electrical contacts, and copper for wiring and electrical components. This all contributes towards maximizing the value extracted from an end-of-life IT asset, reducing waste.

Alongside extracting value, recycling the product responsibly is essential, using sustainable and certified e-waste recycling methods.

So, what does a certified e-waste recycling process look like? Here's how an expert like TES handles e-waste recycling.

Recycling process TES


What procedures are there to follow?

When ITAD companies handle e-waste, they must follow the correct procedures to ensure compliance and minimize environmental impact. 

Developed by Sustainable Electronics Recycling International (SERI), the R2 (Responsible Recycling) certification program outlines the best practices for sustainable ITAD. R2 certification ensures ITAD organizations minimize waste generation, track materials through the disposition process and comply with local and international regulations.

IT asset managers must have compliance and regulatory considerations when managing ITAD processes. Compliance with environmental regulations such as the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) directive, the Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) directive and the Basel Convention ensures e-waste is handled correctly.

The WEEE directive requires manufacturers to take responsibility for the disposition of their products, while RoHS regulations prohibit the use of specific hazardous substances in electronic devices. The Basel Convention regulates the transboundary movement of hazardous waste, ensuring e-waste isn't shipped to countries that don't have the capacity to manage it properly.


Selecting the right ITAD company for your needs

With the transboundary movement of e-waste becoming more difficult, partnering with an ITAD expert will help you navigate these regulations and avoid repercussions. Legislation and regulations vary widely from one country to another, and both are complex and constantly evolving.

Ensuring you don't contribute to the growing e-waste problem worldwide is vital to business. By choosing the right ITAD partner, you can ensure responsible handling of your end-of-life IT assets.

Partnering with a certified ITAD company like TES can help you manage the processing of every asset, adhering to local, regional, country and international regulations and standards in a compliant manner.

TES can manage and eliminate your compliance risks regarding e-waste. Our worldwide footprint ensures we're fully equipped with knowledge of global regulations and our pioneering technology closes the loop on battery recycling and other e-waste.


Looking for more ways to be sustainable?

Many opportunities exist to be more sustainable throughout your ITAD processes, but knowing where to start can be difficult.

From ensuring your IT asset disposition processes align with your overarching company sustainability procedures to sustainable IT management, implementing the correct procedures can be challenging.

That's why we've created a checklist you can use to maintain socially responsible procedures regarding your IT assets.
To access your copy of the checklist for life, click below.

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See how TES can help you today