Your business can make an impact on the monumental global e waste problem by following these guidelines to ensure sustainability.
We’re nearly halfway through 2022, and humans have already generated more than 9 million tons of e waste this year. That’s 9 million tons of telecommunications equipment, solar panels, computer monitors, and consumer electronic devices that will never be powered back on again. The global e waste problem is larger than we suspect.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) defines e waste as any object powered by electrical energy that has been discarded with no intent for future use. It’s not just cell phones and televisions either. It’s objects we rarely consider, like the black boxes inside airplanes, drives inside cable boxes, or the CPUs inside of manufactured items. This kind of waste has the potential to destroy our planet.
More and more e waste
In a modern world where technological innovations are constantly increasing, so too is the e waste that accumulates from discarded technology.
Take mobile phones, for example. The average consumer purchases a replacement phone less than every three years. But new versions of old phones do not create new technology. Consumers simply buy new phones and discard their old ones. Practices like this have generated an average e waste of more than 7 kilograms globally per capita. And this collective e waste output has a huge effect on our environment.
E waste and the environment
Without proper removal, e waste poses a real threat for building global sustainability. This is because improper disposal allows the waste to accumulate in our water, soil, and air. With so many different technologies comprising e waste, it’s no wonder that heavy metals — such as mercury, lithium, and barium — are causing contamination of groundwater and nearby crops.
Once contaminated, trace materials from e waste can remain in the soil for decades, leading to health problems for humans and their environments. Even more problematic is the fact that our studies of e waste cannot keep up with our rate of technological advancement. We are producing more waste than we have time to measure its effects. Simply put: E waste requires innovative and deliberate thinking from sustainable leaders to ensure our future.
How can we solve the global e waste problem?
Although it requires responsible and sustainable solutions, solving the global e waste problem is far from impossible. In fact, your business can make an impact through responsible corporate electronic recycling.
In 2019, a joint report in support of the United Nations E-waste Coalition explored how to ensure e waste sustainability. Calling for a new vision in which global business focuses on building a circular system of electronics, this report suggests that sustainability begins by allowing resources to be reused and revalued. This generative solution to the e waste problem is not only sustainable for the environment, but also for the economy. It can produce new economic opportunities for companies willing to take charge.
According to this report, by choosing the most sustainable practices for the global e waste problem, we can recover far more materials that we would otherwise be wasting. This brings us to the biggest question when it comes to e waste: How can we help lead on sustainability?
3 key steps to becoming a sustainability leader
1. Maximize cloud usage
Along with its technological benefits, the cloud is also a way for businesses to proactively reduce e waste. By securely storing and managing your data, you can limit the number of hardware and hard drives you purchase, whether due to demand or the need for replacements. Though some companies might still be hesitant to fully rely on cloud computing, it’s worth remembering the amount of software currently offered as SaaS (e.g., Google Drive, Gmail, or Amazon Web Services).
2. Corporate electronic recycling
As corporations continue to advance technologically, e waste will continue to be an inevitable reality. One way to maximize your business technology, however, is to invest in corporate electronic recycling. No matter which form this takes, including technology refreshes or comprehensive e waste management strategies, investing in corporate electronic recycling improves not only your company’s bottom line, but the planet’s.
Additionally, partnering with a certified IT asset disposition company is beneficial both as a management strategy AND also in terms of legal compliance. Companies of all sizes have been reprimanded with fines and legal trouble for their careless, unlawful waste disposal. You can avoid unnecessary problems (and fines) working with an ITAD company that you can trust.
3. Emphasize company culture
It can be a challenge to generate enthusiasm around responsible e waste recycling. But your company’s culture can be a huge part of the solution by embracing the economic benefits that come from sustainable e waste management. By making e waste a priority, you not only maximize asset value recovery but you also signal to your stakeholders that you understand the importance of future-proofing your business and the environment.
No matter where you are on the road to sustainability, we are here to help you and your corporate electronics recycling projects come to life.