When it comes to creating an effective e waste management strategy, there’s no one size fits all.

Among corporate buzzwords, “sustainability” is here to stay. The drive to build a sustainable operation is not only a moral imperative. Consumers also reward companies that show a real commitment to doing what’s right for the environment, according to several studies. 

To quote a Nielsen report: “Brands that are able to strategically connect (sustainability) to actual behavior are in a good place to capitalize on increased consumer expectation and demand… Sustainability claims on packaging must also reflect how a company operates inside and out.”

The growing number of companies that now have sustainability officers, including at the C-suite level, further underscores their significance, Deloitte reports. In addition to efforts like conserving water and electricity, evaluating vendors, and sourcing responsibly, don’t forget one more aspect. We are talking about your e waste management strategy.

Missed opportunities

Yet, many still do. As we pointed out in this post, many firms have not linked their sustainability strategies practices with their electronic waste management. This suggests there’s an untapped business opportunity. Your efforts to correctly discard and reduce corporate e waste can turn into a sustainability — and competitive — advantage. So, how should you manage electronics recycling?

Unlike the linear approach of the past, we’re quickly moving to a pro-active or circular economy in which companies like yours can lead the way. To cite a global think tank

“With the help of innovative business models prioritizing lifetime extension and reuse of electronic products, the shift to more circular business practices will reduce the negative impacts of e-waste, despite the massive proliferation of electronic devices.” 

Put differently, here’s a chance for your company to make a real impact, both from positioning yourself as a sustainability leader and reaping the financial benefits of strategic resource recovery. The latest figures, in particular, show only  17.4% of global e-waste — which in 2019 reached 53.6 million metric tons (Mt) — is recycled, leaving a staggering $47 billion in lost value from materials that could have been recovered, including cobalt, palladium, copper, and other conflict minerals. 

How does your e waste management strategy contribute to your sustainability goals?

If you think you’re not getting the most out of your retired IT assets or if electronics recycling in general seems like a hassle, consider how improvements in your company’s e-waste management strategy can contribute to your overall sustainability goals and health of your entire operation. 

When it comes to creating an e waste management strategy, there’s no one-size-fits-all. The structure, risk profile, market, goals, and culture of your business ultimately determine what it will look like. As you deliberate, you may consider points like the following: 

Finding the right fit

  • How much electronic waste does your company generate? What are the associated costs? To confidently answer those questions, conduct an electronic waste audit to quantify the e-waste stream and the current cost of management.  
  • How is your electronic waste currently being disposed? What does the chain of custody look like? Seek full transparency, understand the end-of-life process and the role of secondary markets, and how you can mititgate risks, whether related to brand reputation or workers’ safety. 
  • How can your sourcing strategy contribute to improved circularity? If possible, opt for products that are designed to facilitate ease of recycling. 
  • How can your vendor management serve to reduce environmental impact? Conduct product life cycle assessments and quantify value chain (Scope 3) emissions related to e-waste recycling practices. 
  • How does your e waste management strategy align with your company’s sustainability goals? How can improved electronics recycling contribute to helping your organization reach goals like zero waste and carbon neutrality. 
  • Is your current business electronic recycler R2-certified? The R2 certification is a key component in sustainable electronic waste management, guaranteeing that your recycling partner meets the highest environmental standards for the safe and responsible recycling of electronic products.

To become a sustainability leader, corporate electronic recycling will play a crucial role. If you need assistance with creating and executing your e waste management strategy, we’re here to help. 

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