Waking up to the cost of e-Waste at home and at work

Who among us doesn’t have a junk drawer rammed with random cables, gadgets, and handsets we can’t seem to part with? It’s no use denying it, most of us do.
You’re probably groaning as you read this, but so is the planet under the strain of our hoarding habits. In the UK alone, we squirrel away an estimated 527 million electrical items in our homes – meanwhile, the manufacturing world is crying out for the raw materials held hostage in their components.

Even when we commit to clearing out the electronics troves in our homes, too many of us fail to dispose of our devices safely. UK households dump 155,000 tonnes of small electricals in our general waste bins every year.

That’s why this year’s International eWaste Day motto is ‘Recycle it all, no matter how small’.

LAPTOP TO LANDFILL

The problem with eWaste is not just in our homes, but also in our workplaces. Business eWaste already puts an immense burden on the environment and is growing.

The laptop-to-landfill pipeline has been too easy for fast-paced, growth-focused industry to overlook. Service providers, concerned with tight project deadlines and even tighter budgets, are a world away from the places electronics go to die and the communities who suffer the bleakest outcomes.

BREAK IT DOWN

It’s impossible to ignore the fact that this is an ‘us’ problem: Europe and the US contribute almost half of the 50 million tonnes of eWaste generated globally each year, with the UK producing a massive 10kg more per person, per year than the EU average. What’s worse, this waste stream is forecast to increase by 40% by 2030.

The pandemic shone a light on component shortages causing sloppy supply chains and longer lead times, reminding businesses that they have practical, as well as moral, incentives to adopt a more sustainable approach.

A more sustainable approach starts with reviewing what your business currently has and the future outcome it needs. Much technology is on a three year replacement cycle but we find that the technology itself has been designed to last longer than that. Technology manufacturers have active authorised remanufactured programmes and excess-to-requirements redeployment programmes. These programmes are pivotal in breaking the linear take, make, use and dispose model of technology consumption. By integrating non-new technology into IT infrastructure, technology is used to its full utility displacing the creation of new.

There is also a commercial imperative in taking a more sustainable approach. Remanufactured technology is often already available as the same generation technology enters the market, but at a significantly reduced in price. Likewise, large organisations can generate value from technology hardware that is redundant for them but may be just what another organisation is looking for. It’s time for us all to commit to keeping technology that already exists in use for longer.

Happily, there is support out there for business that are ready to make changes.


“If you want to do something so that future generations can thrive whilst relying on technology, you’ll be pleasantly surprised how quickly and significantly you can make a difference.”

 ~ Anthony Levy, Founder, Circularity First

THE TEAR DOWN

One person we suspect can’t lay claim to a drawer-full of eWaste is The Sustainable IT Guy (though we’re willing to bet even he has an old charger or SD card knocking about).

Anthony Levy founded Circularity First to challenge the IT industry’s taken-for-granted linear supply chain model. Its IT solutions supergroup has over 14 years’ experience in delivering fast, affordable and – crucially – sustainable networking outcomes based on remanufactured and redeployed equipment.

Circularity First (working with Eunomia Consulting) designed The Tear Down – a hands-on project aimed at helping businesses understand the impact of networking equipment on their carbon emissions.

Whereas usually, most critical focus is given to the in-use energy of a product, disassembly gives an indicative breakdown of the carbon embodied within product parts, the energy that’s used in extracting and refining the materials, and then in the manufacturing, assembly and transportation.


“Doing this very practical work and demonstrating, particularly in the B2B environment in network equipment, is satisfying and important. Most of the focus is on consumer electronics and electrical equipment. [Given the impact of] IT equipment in the business space, we need to be aware and try and do something to minimise it.”

~ Mark Hilton, Head of Sustainable Business, Eunomia

ACT ON IT

International eWaste Day 2022 is a call to stop burying the true cost of eWaste in our subconscious like a Nokia handset in a junk drawer, or that cupboard full of unused networking equipment.

Circularity First champions circularity and its role in the IT sector, providing solutions that benefit people, planet, and profit.

Find out how we can help you align your IT strategy with your organisation’s sustainability goals and learn how our Tear Down initiative supports your business case for a more sustainable approach for IT.
Get in touch today!
Why brand new IT can't always be the answer
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