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How to create an information technology sustainability plan

- 5 minute read

Within any IT Asset Disposition (ITAD) process, you’re looking for efficiency, compliance, potential asset recovery, security and a low ecological footprint. It’s an ITAD manager and sustainability professionals' responsibility to complete this kind of key work - and done right. However, you might be faced with inefficient processes, missed SLAs with ITAD partners, inaccurate reporting or worse - legislative or security issues.

We’ve written this blog to help make sure you avoid these types of problems in the future. Here’s how to create an information technology sustainability plan. 

How to create your information technology sustainability plan

1. Create a business case

Do the research. Create a rationale for effectively disposing and/or recycling your obsolete IT assets. For example, you don’t want to end up in a lengthy legal battle because of improperly disposed-of or misplaced equipment. This happened to Morgan Stanley when missing equipment led to large data breaches, leaking personal identifiable information (PII). 

Their data wasn't fully ‘wiped clean’ from the equipment, which was then lost. These breaches were traced back to 2016, some of which they were fined $60 million for. For business continuity, staying secure and compliant is crucial to guarantee. This can be helped by a proper IT sustainability plan informing your ITAD decisions. 

2. Identify what you need to dispose of properly

What type of technology are you ‘wasting’? If it’s tech that’s previously housed data, you'll need to create specific methods for dealing with it, as this is the type of IT asset that can wreak havoc when in the wrong hands. 

What happened to Morgan Stanley is an invisible risk, something you don’t usually consider. But, it means disjointed ITAD can hurt your bottom line and even kill your business. Data can be erased on-premise, but only an experienced professional who can make sure that it’s gone should do it. Sometimes data can lie dormant in other parts of a machine, unbeknownst to your team. This is what can cause problems. 

Alternatively, you can work with external ITAD professionals who can take it upon themselves to sanitize data, ensuring data is gone and you aren't at risk of non-compliance. Similarly, ask yourself if the equipment can be reused rather than recycled. This means it will need data sanitization and your assets potentially get a second life, increasing the extractable value from the technology before it's unusable. 

3. What compliance do you need to satisfy?

This is fairly straightforward but important research to undertake and understand. What specific regulations do you need to comply with to dispose of your IT assets? Are there specific data laws that apply to you?

For example, in the US, you’ll be under the jurisdiction of the 1974 Privacy Act, the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA) and the Gramm-Leave-Bliley Act (GLBA) which all have stipulations regarding what happens with data being disposed of.

4. Will you need third-party support?

It’s an understandably difficult task to sanitize your IT assets accurately and then shipping them off for reuse or recycling. Professional ITAD partners exist and are there to support you in your ITAD processes. Partners like these will be able to oversee the handling of sensitive data, ensuring your equipment leaves your facility and arrives at a recycling plant safely, amongst other steps in the complete ITAD process, from chain of custody to reverse logistics all the way up to recycling what can’t be reused. 

For example, at TES, data can be sanitized on-site or off and exceeds the NIST 800-88 standards which are globally-recognized. This ensures data is 100% overwritten. 

For more information on ITAD and why now is the time to set up an ITAD program, read our blog here

The e-waste recycling statistics - why you need an information technology sustainability plan

Some people behind ITAD processes might tell you that once the obsolete technology is out of the door, it’s no longer their problem. While this is a pretty silent methodology and will have little short-term business disruption, it isn't a guarantee of long-term operability. ITAD processes need to consider the life of the assets after they’ve been thrown away, from both an ecological and security standpoint.

According to the Global E-Waste Monitor, 53.6 million metric tons of e-waste were generated worldwide in 2019. Of this, only 17.4% was recycled, so recycling can’t keep up due to the rate of e-waste growth year upon year.

IT equipment represented roughly 6.7 million metric tons of this number. While 71% of the globe is covered by legislation, policy and regulation regarding e-waste and its handling, the amount that gets recycled is still small. The recycling rate also varies across the globe, with 42.5% in Europe and 0.9% in Africa. The worldwide average is roughly 20%, which is interesting considering the large amounts of recoverable material.

For example, through recycling one million mobile phones, you could recover around:

  • 35,000lb of copper.
  • 33lb of palladium.
  • 75lb of gold.
  • 772lb of silver.

Many business professionals who work with IT equipment simply don’t realize the amount of technology that can be effectively reused or recycled. For example, monitors, old network switches, obsolete desktop units (such as towers and small-form-factor PCs) can all be broken down and recycled. By doing this, we help create a circular economy for IT, making sure a large amount lessens our environmental impact.

For the modern business looking to accurately ensure they’re recycling as much of their obsolete IT assets as possible, this is where the information technology sustainability plan comes in. Partnering with an IT asset disposition expert is the best way of ensuring compliance and sustainability when it comes to e-waste.

Getting the most from your ITAD

To summarize, asset disposition and e-waste recycling need to be rooted in environmental and data law compliance, ensuring that we can enjoy a greener planet and risk-free business continuity. But what exactly do partners like these offer? It varies. Some simply offer e-waste recycling while others have a whole array of services, from recycling to ITAD, from managed deployment to battery recycling and more. 

Recycling is evidently an important consideration. Here’s the TES recycling process broken down to show you exactly what kind of support you'll receive:

TES recycling process

There’s a myriad of global and regional regulations to remain compliant with, ones that may become apparent in your sustainability plan creation. However, no one is infallible and something could be missed. That’s why working with a partner is so important. Complex regulations between foreign jurisdictions are impossibly difficult without a compliance resource, someone there who's attuned to regulatory authorities and understands what it takes to remain compliant. 

If you’re interested in learning more about TES’ work with compliance and our environmental record, you can download our yearly sustainability report.

The TES sustainability report

To get a glimpse of our global work and our record on sustainability, alongside how we’re leading the market in the transition towards a circular economy when it comes to e-waste, simply download our guide. 

Inside, you’ll discover exactly how an experienced ITAD provider is demonstrating ongoing commitment to sustainable practices and innovation. Click the link below to get your copy.

TES - Sustainability Report CTA


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