Much like we have seen a focus of scrutiny in areas such as plastics, packaging and how businesses procure commodities, such as energy; technology and e-waste is rapidly moving up that agenda.
The Guardian Newspaper recently announced it is changing how it rates consumer electronics, and will mark down products, no matter how good, if they do not meet certain thresholds for sustainable progress.
It’s an interesting and positive development, serving as a reminder as to how the emphasis within the consumer arena is shifting to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), to make the technology products we increasingly rely upon, more sustainable.
As has happened in other areas of sustainability, the shift of focus invariably will broaden to how businesses more generally are handling their ageing and end of first life technology.
Deloitte also recently published guidance on how technology executives can better understand COVID-19’s impact on the technology sector. In it, they cite that “the effects of COVID-19 are having a significant impact on the technology sector, affecting raw materials supply, disrupting the electronics value chain.” As we look to build back post-COVID, economics 101 tells us we cannot continue to extract materials in a linear fashion infinitum.
This should not be viewed as a negative evolution, businesses with broader, more progressive agendas are both future-proofing and positioning themselves to capture opportunities. They are also mitigating risk and serious existential threats.
Some questions I beg you to ponder...
- What does your business do with its laptops, phones, and data servers when they have reached their end-of-life?
- What measurements is your organization taking to prevent retired technology ending up in a landfill or even jeopardizing the data held on them, through mishandling?
- How much value do these used assets still have?
The right ITAD (Information Technology Asset Disposition) vendor solves the uncertainty of how your technology is managed post retirement. Synonymous with starting an ITAD program is a popular Chinese proverb...
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the second-best time is now”.
So, why is now an ideal time to take out an ITAD program?
Poorly handled e-waste is already having a severely detrimental impact on our planet, and it is of growing concern. 53.6 million tons of e-waste was produced globally in 2019, and it’s predicted that by 2030, global e-waste will reach 74 million metric tons - almost a doubling in just 16 years. This makes it the world’s fastest growing domestic waste stream.
Over half of the United States and nearly 80 countries globally have already implemented laws and regulations on proper disposition of these assets. Some organizations have seen fines upwards of $25 million in fines for improper handling of their e-waste.
The right ITAD vendor will decide the proper way to handle your organization’s retired IT, protecting your brand and bringing an undeniably positive impact on said organizations scope 3 emissions.
Understanding when to initiate a technology refresh, or finding that asset value recovery ‘sweet spot’, can be perplexing... The make and model of the asset, market demand, and deprecation rate make a massive impact on determining when is the optimal time to retire that asset, and purchase new ones.
This is yet another facet of the industry where it pays to have a strategic and transparent ITAD partner. The right reverse logistics supplier will advise you when is best to retire your current assets.
For example, Windows laptops depreciate at a rate of 0%-5% monthly. An important balance of getting the most out of your assets, and remarketing when there is still decent value attached to the equipment, is an ever-changing conundrum.
External factors can influence this greatly. In the current climate for example, the market has fluctuated with an increase in demand. Therefore, it may be advisable to push a refresh cycle to an earlier time, to aid in recuperating the upfront costs.
Additional Revenue Stream
A common misconception of the ITAD industry is the associated costs of the services. One could conclude that the addition of yet another supplier to your organization fiscally, means yet another cost of doing business.
However, an ITAD vendor will evaluate if that old laptop can be remarketed or reused (perhaps via donations to charities).
There is a plethora of organizations worldwide that have been able to achieve cost-neutral programs. Say your annual recycling fees for invaluable IT (phones, printers, keyboards) is $60,000 a year. A strategic ITAD vendor with a formidable remarketing (or sales-out team) can recover those costs by remarketing your retired IT in a geography or by a channel where the best return can be achieved.
Closing the loop
We are all consciously aware of the undeniable good recycling does for this planet. With consumers doing their part, it is key that organizations across the world follow suit and adopt an environmentalist approach regarding their end-of-life IT.
A formidable ITAD provider will take calculated steps to ensure any IT that cannot be remarketed or reused is properly recycled by local statutes. Furthermore, a strong ITAD supplier will publish annual sustainability reports and illustrate where all those plastics and ferrous metals flowed.
Put simply, an ITAD provider should be able to prove they confidently and proudly are appropriately disassembling end-of-life assets and adhering to local regulations to properly recycle said assets. The beauty of the industry is the philanthropic notion that is environmentalism. ITAD vendors workday in and out, with our world in mind, constantly innovating to find more efficient ways to close the loop in the circular economy.
About the author
Derek Kimmerle - Global Accounts Manager
Derek comes from the beautiful evergreen state Washington, tucked up in the pacific northwest of America. He craves any activity outdoors, delectable eats, and crafty cocktails. If you would like to learn more about him, or simply have a chat, please connect with him on LinkedIn!