Most commonly referred to as e-waste, decommissioned computers, copiers, hard drives, and other electrical components end up in landfills which causes harmful effects to the environment. It is estimated that between 20 to 50 million metric tons of e-waste are disposed worldwide every year. The unfortunate reality is that a significant portion of what is thought to be e-waste is not actually waste; it is electronic parts and equipment that has been erroneously marked as obsolete, when in fact, many of the components could be repurposed, reused, or recycled. As the amount of e-waste grows each year, corporations have a social responsibility to dispose of e-waste safely and properly.
In a 2014, report the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) revealed that nearly 90 percent of e-waste is being illegally dumped and traded on the black market. There is a quickly growing trend of dumping e-waste in developing countries. For example, an American manufacturer may hire what they deem to be a legitimate e-waste removal service, only to have the e-waste be dumped in another country, still exposing the environment to great risk. In a recent Basel Action Network study, they found that 39 percent of recycled devices were exported overseas to parts of Asia. Since many countries do not have stringent e-waste disposal regulations, it is up to corporations to set their own standards to keep the environment and the citizens around the world safe.
How can e-waste be repurposed?
Reducing e-waste is the easiest and most effective way to protect the environment. To do this, corporations need to take precautions and set up internal protocols on how to properly decommission and dispose of electrical components.
Environmental experts recommend implementing these three strategies:
- Reduce the amount of e-waste generated per year by staying current on equipment maintenance and following procurement guidelines to reduce the likelihood of purchasing damaged or outdated IT assets. Best practices are to find a provider with the International Organization for Standardization’s (ISO) 9001 guidelines for Quality Management Systems.
- Reuse operable electronic equipment. Many times an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) may refuse to cover an equipment part or piece of hardware after it has reached the end-of-support milestone. However, by leveraging third party maintenance providers such as XSi, companies can extend the life of their current IT assets. This way, the amount of e-waste produced will be lowered and organizations can achieve a higher ROI on their electronic investments.
- Recycle those products that are obsolete or those that cannot be repaired. Partnering with a trusted and reputable IT asset disposition (ITAD) provider is key to avoid inadvertently supporting the illegal dumping of e-waste around the world.
- Resell the products that retain monetary value. Most reputable ITAD companies will use best practices to remarket and obtain the highest possible value for your decommissioned assets.
It is up to corporations around the world to educate their personnel on when and how to dispose of electronic parts and equipment. Without a concerted effort, e-waste will continue to be one of the leading causes of toxic waste in our landfills.If you believe your organization could benefit from having direct access to a green ITAD specialist to provide onsite data wiping, disk destruction, asset disposition reporting, or asset redeployment, then contact XSi at 1-877-548-2836 (US), 1-770-824-3453 (International), or visit our website at http://www.xsnet.com.