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, underscore the significance of the concept, a Deloitte survey reports. Amid efforts to conserve water and electricity, source responsibly, and evaluate vendors based on their own sustainability practices, one aspect cannot be overlooked — your e waste management strategy.
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 to turn your efforts to correctly discard and reduce corporate e waste into a sustainability — and competitive — advantage.
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 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.
Finding the right fit
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:
- 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? It’s important to seek full transparency and to understand the end-of-life process, the role of secondary markets, and how risks can be mitigated, 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, electronics recycling will play a crucial role. If you need assistance with creating and executing your e waste management strategy, we’re here to help.