The Corporate Impact of Electronic Waste

Note: Article adapted from here.

As our dependence on technology grows at breakneck speed, so does our electronic waste. Our unhesitating mindset of swapping out our technology for the newest, most attractive model on the market, holds dire consequences. An alarming statistic has shown that a whopping 41.6% of people in the United States jump the gun and replace their cellular devices, despite it being in pristine condition. Our rampant consumerism has led to the destruction of our land, waterbeds, and the health of populations. Ignorance is not always blissful. Companies around the world are the largest players in this murky game. According to sustainability research from SOTI, a leading provider of device management alternatives, has found that almost 7 out of every 10 IT leaders in the United States trade in their office devices prematurely. It is crucial that changes be made in IT departments to reduce the unbridled growth of electronic waste. The implementation of Green IT solutions may be a pivotal step towards a sustainable future.

The pandemic has altered the way we work; many companies have adopted a hybrid working model. As employees spend more time working from home, the process of contacting their IT department for repairs is cumbersome and time consuming. The back and forth also creates excess packaging, shipping and fuel costs. It is much more eco-friendly to use diagnostic tools, designed to identify software issues remotely, to mitigate these burdens. Companies must also take greater initiatives in reducing their environmental footprint. The first step would be for leaders to take more caution when selecting their office devices. The lifespan of the device, for instance, is a fundamental decipher. The longer the lifespan, the less hardware replacements required and as a result less capital spent by the company. A more thorough analysis is not only beneficial for the environment, but also for the balance sheet. Another way to reduce the rate of replacement would be to increase the life span of mobile devices. A way to do this would be to manage the battery life more effectively by maintaining reduced idle times, utilising data to predict battery failure and by operating battery dashboards to monitor changes in battery conditions and potential failure.

At the end of our devices working life, it is crucial that our electronic waste be disposed of and recycled safely.  There is a golden opportunity to create a circular economy for electronic waste. Recycling high value resources from existing equipment creates reusable components for the manufacture of new devices, cutting the cost of feedstock and disposal at both ends of the supply chain.

The concept hinges on innovative solutions like Clean Urban Mining’s breakthrough technology for harvesting valuable materials, such as gold and copper, from e-waste. The solution uses a benign, organic polymer, in place of toxic cyanide and strong acids, to extract high value metals.  A step further than Green IT for a better future.