How to tackle the ‘global mountain’ of e-waste left behind after COVID
_Carmen Ene is the CEO of 3stepIT, a Finnish company that has saved millions of landfill devices and reduced carbon emissions by helping companies adopt the circular economy model. Here, she explains how changing our relationship with technology ownership might help. _
As the world’s fastest growing waste stream, electronic waste (e-waste) has a crippling effect on the environment. Above the ground, modern electronics are safe to use and keep. However, most contain some form of toxic material that poses serious environmental risks to our soil, water, air and wildlife when they go to landfill.
The global mountain of e-waste is growing exponentially, with 53.6 million metric tonnes generated globally in 2019. Businesses are the biggest contributors to this problem, given their size and scale. Yet there is a growing demand to ensure that the technology available to their employees, such as laptops, tablets and mobiles, is modern enough to maintain and increase productivity in the workplace.
Throughout the pandemic, many companies have been forced to renew their IT suites to ensure that staff can work effectively remotely, spending an additional $ 15 billion (€ 12.6 million) per week on technology when the first wave of COVID. And with this appetite for new devices, the current trajectory of global e-waste is expected to reach 74 million metric tons by 2030.
Worryingly, when asked, a third (36%) of businesses admitted they didn’t know where their e-waste was, and one in 10 admitted to dumping old technology in a landfill. This suggests that devices abandoned during the pandemic are likely to increase the increasing levels of e-waste from businesses.
Clearly, there is strong pressure on businesses to act responsibly when it comes to e-waste – a report’s findings found that more than half of customers, 62%, now want the businesses they are dealing with. buy take a stand on sustainable development. But we also know that businesses want to do the right thing, and many see sustainable operations as an absolute must.
In fact, 92 percent of business leaders say reducing carbon emissions is of major importance to their business. There is of course a tension here.
On the one hand, companies are striving to reduce their environmental footprint and respond to growing calls from employees, customers and partners to operate more sustainably. On the other hand, it is clear the pressure exerted to remain competitive and the crucial role of the latest technologies in helping companies to adapt to new ways of working.
So how do they find the right balance?
Why COVID-19 has made the e-waste problem worse
While the significant investment in remote work technology has kept organizations operational and productive during the crisis, the environmental impact of this forced transformation cannot be ignored.
The change has left a large number of desktops inactive in offices across Europe. Almost a third of desktops have been “laid off” and left abandoned in offices.
More than half of IT decision makers said increasing spending on laptops would be the primary focus of IT investments, echoing industry trends that show a boom in demand for mobile technology.
As a result, and with a return to office life and hybrid work inevitable, many businesses are now faced with the challenge of how to dispose of unnecessary devices as they reconfigure their operations for post-pandemic work styles.
Redundant business technology is both an opportunity and a risk. It often holds residual value if sold to third parties or recycled, which organizations can capitalize on to fund their transition to new flexible ways of working.
But since many companies still do not recognize this opportunity, this now redundant IT equipment could end up in landfill.
Tackling old technology abandoned in abandoned offices
The solution to this problem lies in the change of attitude towards property.
In the same way that we consume music through Spotify, or movies and television through Netflix, the corporate IT world understands that to reduce costs, increase performance and manage electronic waste, their strategy computing device should be based on a service-based subscription model. .
This means that, rather than buying devices, companies turn to a third party to manage and refresh their computing devices, moving from a ‘buy, use, dispose’ approach to a ‘take, make, reuse, recycle’ mentality. “.
This sustainable solution builds on the principles of the circular economy, reducing the environmental impact of owning computing devices by repackaging and reselling devices at the end of their first performance cycle to a second user. This not only reduces e-waste and CO2 emissions, but also gives businesses with different technology requirements the opportunity to procure and manage their IT in a more sustainable and cost-effective manner.
With supported devices, organizations can focus on productivity and growth, confident that their employees have the right technology to be as creative, collaborative, and efficient as they need to be competitive in the marketplace, but without significant environmental impact. .
In a time of rapid technological advancement, more and more electronic products are being developed and manufactured. But with the growing mountain of e-waste causing significant environmental damage, organizations must embrace a new, more sustainable way of managing computing devices.
By adopting a new attitude to ownership, businesses can access the latest technology and enjoy a range of financial and productivity gains. It’s a simple switch that eliminates waste for business and the planet.