If your business is facing repeated pick-up failures and other e-waste management challenges, a new solution could help.
Too many cooks in the kitchen…it’s destined to get messy. The same goes for electronics recycling. It’s difficult to manage and navigate reporting, brand protection, and environmental compliance when you’re dealing with multiple, if not dozens or more, electronic recycling companies.
We recently helped a global OEM that faced these exact problems. And the OEM is far from alone. E-waste management challenges can stem from a wide variety of sources.
In this post, we’ll go through some of the issues we’ve seen. If you recognize your organization in any of the below points, it may be time to take a comprehensive look at potential solutions.
5 Common E-Waste Management Challenges
1. Storage challenges
The network of any business that crosses state or country lines is rarely composed of identical sites. While some facilities may be large manufacturing plants, others may experience such space constraints that storing packaging supplies, like pallets and gaylord boxes, is a major challenge. And with no packaging supplies on hand, the need to package and ship retired electronics becomes needlessly complicated.
If the site is, at the same time, so small that it has little room to accumulate e-waste and also lacks loading docks, you have the very definition of an e-waste management challenge on your hands.
2. Pick-up day frustration
Does the pickup of your corporate e-waste often turn into a logistical nightmare? Although it doesn’t need to be difficult, different setups at different sites can turn pick-up day into a headache. Perhaps, the recycler is a no-show or has sent a truck with the wrong pick-up equipment. You may also have encountered drivers who have not been informed of your site’s unique requirements.
Failing to take all details into account — Does the site have loading docks? Is white-glove service appropriate? — inevitably results in mishaps. If some of your sites are sending products for IT Asset Disposition (ITAD) and some have products ready to go straight to destruction and recycling, you likely need a system to differentiate between sites to avoid confusion. Add different reporting requirements based on the project type at each site, and you can see why you need a recycler with an eye for organization and managing logistics.
3. Reporting problems
The reporting requirements for e-waste can be complex, and time-consuming to compile. Authorities at different levels all want waste output and metrics reported in specific ways and it’s the obligation of you or your company’s Environmental Health and Safety department (EHS) to get it right.
This is an area plagued with e-waste management challenges. A common contributor? The sheer number of e-recyclers used by the organization in question. When each e-recycler uses a different reporting method, the EHS and sustainability teams are left to straighten out the question marks to make the reports accurate and useful.
4. Brand protection failures
When a business grows quickly, management may not always have the bandwidth to evaluate different candidates for electronics recycling. Sometimes, the choice may be the most convenient option down the street or a business that throws in a surprisingly low quote to beat the competition. Unfortunately, it’s a risky strategy. If you’re also working with a large number of e-recyclers, it could pose a direct threat to the integrity of your brand.
In the case of the OEM that reached out to us, the lack of asset tracking, security controls, and utilization of recyclers without the R2 certification had resulted in documented off-market/recycled items making a reappearance in the OEM’s warranty program. For a company whose reputation is easily tinged if, for example, recalled or out-of-date products remain in the marketplace, the haphazard handling was a major concern.
5. Processing errors
When confusion reigns, mistakes happen. With multiple electronics recyclers serving multiple sites, e-waste management challenges ensue. To take the example of the OEM again: The sites had implemented so many procedures for electronic waste recycling that staff struggled to sort out what items should be sent to a recycler, which recycler should receive them, and what documents — such as certificates of recycling and asset lists — they should collect. The confusion left the process vulnerable to errors.
As frustrating as all this can be, you can overcome e-waste management challenges. If the issues include all of the above, a complete reorganization of how you manage retired electronics may be in order. If only one or two are of concern, small adjustments can make a big impact.
To learn how we helped the OEM tackle everything from brand protection and reporting to pickup and process, please read our case study.