Electronic waste is back in the news. Like plastic bottles that choke our oceans, e-waste is a growing threat to our environment. According to the Global E-Waste Monitor, 44.7 million metric tons (Mt) of e-waste were generated in 2016 and only 20% was recycled through the appropriate channels. It was two years ago. Today, many countries do not tackle the problem directly. As China exports its waste to Nigeria and Thailand becomes a dump, there are real concerns about longer-term environmental effects. E-waste is significantly more toxic than plastics, yet only 41 countries track e-waste and have official statistics.
Since e-waste contributes about 20 to 50 million tonnes of waste each year, according to the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), things will only get worse. Organizations must take responsibility for managing e-waste more efficiently, in the interest of the environment; but, also for their finances.
Did you know that your electronic waste also loses your money? So what can you do about it? Your business can reduce e-waste in many ways and possibly recover some of your IT costs. Here is a list of the most effective:
1. ITAD companies.
IT asset dismantling companies are a great way to responsibly remove your excess equipment. ITAD companies will buy your IT assets and resell them to the highest bidder or reusable parts, or recycle them for you, paying back part of the original cost. They also manage the safe shutdown of your data, which takes away that vital responsibility. Returning IT equipment to the market extends the life of the technology you no longer need, creating a chain of ownership and preventing recycling until it is absolutely necessary.
2. Reuse or reuse.
Before automatically disposing of surplus computer equipment, did you consider reusing or reusing equipment? Before you replace each technology element in your organization with the latest updates, it may be helpful to check if this is absolutely necessary. Does each staff member need an upgrade? How is your productivity affected by importing data on new devices, and your staff learning its new technology? Is it possible to transfer equipment into the company chain or reuse it in another zone? In addition to reducing upgrade costs, this will also extend the life of the equipment, thereby reducing the continued need for ITAD support and, ultimately, creating waste.
Defective computer equipment may appear to be detrimental to productivity, making the cost of replacing it more viable at that time. But the cost of the repair may be less than you think. If your devices are no longer under warranty for a repair with the manufacturer, a decent computer repair service is definitely worth the time spent searching, especially if an agreement can be reached. Consider this as an investment in the future, a way to support a local business and a decision to be more responsible for your contribution to e-waste.
4. Reuse or refurbish.
Before you buy a new technology, consider reusing the computer hardware that you already own in your business inventory, thus saving the company money. Are you fully aware of the equipment flowing in your business, and do you use it entirely? Another viable option is to purchase refurbished technology at a fraction of the cost of the new technology. Third party maintenance companies may be used to service the equipment if you are concerned about a lack of OEM warranty.
5. Make a donation.
Giving your excess equipment is a way to prolong the life of unwanted devices and to help a worthy cause. There is a range of organizations that will happily take care of these things, allowing you to promote yourself as a "green" business. The World Computer Exchange is working with 450 other organizations to provide technology to young people in developing countries and will accept a range of devices to support education. Earth911 is a great resource for finding local charities to donate, so you can support your local community. Many of these organizations will also provide a tax receipt for your generous donation, so you can recover some of your computer hardware expenses.
When you need to recycle your used equipment, make sure your e-waste is treated responsibly. Choose a R2 or e-stewards certified recycling service, with the appropriate licenses. These services must verify a downstream path responsible for e-waste. This, of course, is a last resort, but taking one of these options will go a long way in helping to solve the problem. Plus, it has the added benefit of saving money and enhancing the brand's reputation.