5 ways business leaders can start tackling eWaste.

eWaste. It’s a problem that lies buried - literally.  It’s something many of us just don’t think about.
But it’s a growing global issue. And if left unchecked, it will become detrimental to human health and our planet.

What is eWaste?

The term eWaste (electronic waste), includes anything electronic with a plug or battery. Think computers, TVs, mobile phones and air conditioning units. When these items reach the end of their useful life, they become eWaste.

While the technological advancement we’ve seen over the last decade has delivered many benefits, the amount of electronics we create, consume and throw away has seen the volume of eWaste growing at an alarming rate.

Every year, over 54 million tonnes of eWaste ends up in landfill. And, according to the UN, this is set to double by 2050.

What are the effects of eWaste?

The impact of eWaste is far reaching. The electronics we throw away contain toxic substances, including mercury, brominated flame retardants (BRF), and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). Over time, these drain into soil, escape into the air, and are now entering our food chain.

The use of earth’s resources

The issues of disposal are only half of the story. As everything we throw away is replaced, we continue mining precious metals and materials, draining finite natural resources as we go. 
In doing this, we are destroying environments and communities in areas that don’t benefit from the final technologies themselves. People, plants, wildlife and ecosystems are all affected. And the ongoing use of resources is not sustainable.

An untapped goldmine

And that’s not all. It’s estimated that 7% of the world’s gold may currently be found in eWaste and that one tonne of eWaste contains 100 times more gold than the same volume of gold ore.

Rather than re-using these precious materials, we are disposing of them and choosing to mine new resources in smaller quantities. It just doesn’t make sense.

We need to work together to change how we plan, procure and evolve our IT infrastructure going forward. 

Here are 5 steps you can take today

1. Ask: do we need a new one?

The take, make, use and dispose cycle is commonplace in our businesses and society. But this can no longer be our default.

We all need to play our part in replacing ingrained behaviours with new sustainable IT practices that align social responsibility with strategy, performance and profit. 

Put simply, we need to use what we have for longer. 

2. Consider non-new as an option

10 years ago, non-new IT equipment was synonymous with terms like ‘cheap’, ‘grey market’ and ‘fake’. Today, you can tap into a vendor-approved market, created by industry leaders from HP to Cisco and IBM. 

Non-new is no longer a second-rate option. The equipment is technologically sound, has a lower impact on the planet and costs you less. In fact, according to recent IBM research of 525 global IT professionals, saving money was the lead reason for choosing used IT equipment. It makes business sense.

3. Re-use, repair, refurbish, remanufacture

Hardware is an asset that can be used again and again – by your business, or by someone else. You can easily remanufacture, repair and redeploy your IT equipment.

Our circular economy partnership with clients including Cisco, proves that remanufactured technology works. Every component is tested and replaced as necessary, so your IT looks and runs as new. It also comes with all the warranties you’d expect from a brand new product.
So why not talk to us about collecting your technology for remanufacture, repair and redeployment?

4. Check your recycling

As strange as it sounds, recycling should be your last resort. And if you are recycling, it’s important to check where it’s going.

Only 18% of global eWaste is properly recycled. The rest ends up in landfill, or is ‘informally recycled’ by workers in developing countries, often dangerously and illegally. 

According to the World Health Organisation, waste management in these countries is carried out by informal sector workers, including children as young as five, who are exposed to dangerous and carcinogenic chemicals.

5. Talk to us

For over a decade our teams at The Circularity First Group have been working with clients, including Cisco, the NHS and Ministry of Defence to reduce eWaste and lengthen the lifecycle of IT. 

We’re proud to have saved over 763 tonnes of eWaste to date and our target is to reach 1000 tonnes by 2022.

If you would like to reduce eWaste and continue working towards more sustainable solutions, please get in touch.

Moving forward

As business leaders, we have to continue asking challenging questions and aligning our IT disposal with circular economy objectives. This means asking key questions like “Do I need brand new technology?” at the start of the process – not at the end.

The good news is: the solutions exist. And they are already working. Together, we can now extend the life of our IT equipment, start reducing eWaste and create successful practices that benefit business, people, and the planet.

Please get in touch
Why brand new IT can't always be the answer
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