We speak so often about the importance of data protection in IT asset disposal that the need to execute ITAD operations in an environmentally responsible manner often goes unmentioned. Of course, there are guidelines and directives in place, but that’s not to say they’re entirely adequate. It is estimated that we produce 50 million tonnes of e-waste each year, set to increase to 120 million tonnes by 2050, if we don’t act now. But why is environmentally friendly IT asset disposal so important, and what actionable steps can you take? Let’s take a closer look.
Why environmentally responsible is important
Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), compared the current climate to a natural disaster: “a tsunami of e-waste rolling out over the world”, which highlights the impact e-waste is currently having on the environment and, in turn, real people. However, the main difference between the “waste mountain” that Steiner describes, and a tsunami, is that this problem is entirely man-made by our habit of dumping redundant IT equipment in landfill sites – mostly in developing countries.
IT equipment contains many potentially hazardous elements, including the likes of mercury cadmium and beryllium. As this equipment is dumped in landfill sites, these toxins are emitted into the atmosphere and absorbed into the ground. Over time, this can pollute air and soil quality, affecting those that live nearby, as well as agriculture, as toxins run into the soil and water.
While we might not be able to eradicate the problem that is global e-waste overnnight, there are certainly steps that businesses can take to ensure they’re taking the most environmentally responsible approach to ITAD.
How you can practice environmentally responsible ITAD
International Telecommunication Union member states recently set a target to increase global e-waste recycling rates to 30%, which highlights the positive impact that recycling redundant IT equipment could have.
In cases where physical data destruction is necessary, recycling might not be viable. However, you should take steps to recycle everything you can – even if that’s just selected elements of a device. This recycling could happen in-house (i.e. relocating a computer monitor from one high-tech department to another with more basic needs), or may need to be done by a third party (if you’re recycling individual elements).
You could even see some financial returns when you practise environmentally responsible ITAD, if you resell redundant equipment. Just because a device is no longer useful to your business, that’s not to say it’s reached its end of life. Of course, you’ll need to erase data completely from each device before it leaves your building, but you’d need to make such an investment before you dispose of the data. Any returns you make from the resale will offset the cost of data erasure processes.
There are organisations and initiatives in need of IT equipment the world over. Donating your redundant IT equipment doesn’t just protect the environment in that it doesn’t end up in landfill, it can help provide access to education and work for those who would otherwise not have access to IT equipment. It goes without saying that data must be removed from devices before they are donated, but these donations really can make a big difference – especially to those in countries that are most affected by the current e-waste problem.
Partner with accredited ITAD supplier
Selecting a reputable and accredited ITAD supplier will set your business well on its way to practising environmentally responsible ITAD. Not only are these providers certified when it comes to an understanding of and compliance with environmental regulation, but they also have the expertise to advise you which option (resell, recycle or dispose) is most viable. Investing in the help of an ITAD partner also means you can put your mind to rest when it comes to data protection – a necessity in all ITAD processes. There are many different factors to consider when choosing an ITAD partner and not all are the same, but forging the right partnership can reap many rewards, for both you and the environment, on a long-term scale.
With over 25 years industry experience, tier1 are proud to be the UK’s most accredited ITAD provider. We possess the skills, accreditations and experience to handle our clients’ data with the care they deserve, and to dispose of it responsibility and legally.
Contact us today on 0161 777 1000 or visit https://www.tier1.com to find out how we can help you dispose of your data safely and reliably.