The urgent need to minimise the impact our technology has on our environment stretches far beyond the moral obligation. With the future development of our organisations in mind, if we are to continue to rely heavily on the networked technologies that simplify our business operations, we need to plan for greater resource efficiency now. But how can we make our technology greener?
As a global society, we must maximise all that we have already extracted from the earth, stepping away from the ‘take, make’ dispose’ culture – or we risk eradicating the raw materials that create those vital IT assets, which drive our businesses forward.
Fortunately, a 2022 global Gartner survey revealed a significant shift in corporate opinion. For the first time in the annual CEO and Senior Business Executive survey’s history, environmental sustainability was reported to be a top 10 priority by respondents. Taking the 8th place spot, this is a huge jump from 14th in 2019.
Gaining greater momentum in the last 5 years, particularly since the pandemic, sustainability and ESG have become key differentiators. With our productivity propelled by our tech, many UK businesses have recognised that sustainable IT is not solely about being environmentally responsible, but it also delivers valuable socio-economic benefits, too.
What is sustainable information technology?
As you might expect, sustainable IT is the practice of using IT resources in a more efficient and ethical way. Also known as green computing, this approach previously focused heavily on energy efficiency, such as reducing the cooling required for data centres or the use of localised edge computing networks to lower power consumption.
However, it extends to all aspects of our use of technology – manufacturing, use, lifecycle management and responsible disposal once devices become end-of-life IT assets. Following the circular model to reduce the impact on the environment, it also includes maximising lifetime value of the devices and their components.
By taking our redundant IT assets and refurbishing them for resale, reuse and redeployment, organisations can extend the lifespan of devices and prevent the manufacture of brand-new assets. Should assets be obsolete, recycling their components so they can enter the remanufacturing sector, prevents hazardous toxins and precious metals from ending up in landfill, polluting the environment.
What are the benefits of sustainable IT?
Boost your bottom line.
By operating with greater efficiency, sustainable organisations reduce their IT overhead costs and increase their net profit.
Rather than the 3–4-year refresh cycles that have become commonplace for enterprises, lifecycle management services, such as a device upgrade, will increase the lifetime value of any asset. Less frequent replacements will improve the overall return on investment for IT inventory.
A lifecycle management ITAD partner can assist with regular maintenance and can help you to identify any hardware upgrades, which will maximise functionality, efficiency and by extension your organisation’s productivity. With in-depth knowledge of the resale market, IT asset disposition services can support decision-making by advising of the optimum time to upgrade, refurbish, sell or recycle redundant IT equipment.
Refurbished devices can then be redeployed to other team members or the company may choose to sell redundant IT assets. Also, when it becomes necessary to recycle assets through environmentally friendly ITAD services, the residual market value for the components is returned to the organisation.
Similarly, sustainable procurement of refurbished devices can be up to 80% less than the equivalent brand-new machine. Resale vendors provide reassuring clear grading systems for the assets along with extended warranty options, which can even exceed those offered by manufacturers for new models.
Improve your ESG rating.
From virgin materials mining through to component manufacture and production, a single laptop will generate 316 kg of CO₂ emissions, on average. * Therefore, by extending the lifespan of a product and utilising the components we already have, we can prevent a substantial amount of greenhouse gas emissions.
The Gartner survey also reported the widespread recognition that ESG initiatives present opportunities for revenue growth and attract customers, employees and suppliers. Furthermore, 74% of CEOs agreed that increasing ESG practices attracted investors. ^
Green IT approaches often form part of a wider corporate sustainability strategy, improving the brand’s reputation significantly due to the strong association with brand trust. Consumers are undoubtedly actively seeking out ethical brands and products. In 2020, a study by The IBM Institute for Business Value and The National Retail Federation confirmed that almost two-thirds of consumers (70%) in the U.S. and Canada believe it is important for brands to be sustainable, and those customers are willing to pay more for just that. What’s more, a third will abandon a favourite brand if it fails to align with personal ethical values.
Guarantee your legal compliance.
Whilst ESG can boost your brand reputation, improper IT asset disposition and failure to comply with environmental waste laws or worse still, a data breach, could damage your brand extensively. A third of respondents report that they would stop purchasing a product if they lost trust in the brand. +
Ensuring responsible disposal of our technology is vital, given that global e-waste is forecast to exceed 74 million metric tons by 2030. **
The EU already leads the rest of the world with its stringent Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive, (WEEE). However, going further still, in January 2023, came into force; it will take effect in 2025. The CSRD affects some 50,000 companies in EU-regulated markets, requiring them to disclose environmental and social issues data. Aiming to improve non-financial reporting, CSRD is intended to contribute to Europe’s 2050 climate-neutrality target. ^^ This legislation will naturally create greater adoption of sustainable computing practices when enterprises update their IT infrastructure.
When talking about secure IT asset disposal, the importance of data destruction services should be considered. To protect company data and customer PII, assets should always be sanitised using secure data erasure software. The advanced Blancco system produces an IT asset disposal accreditation certificate. This provides your all-important ITAD chain of custody, evidencing that the GDPR data destruction requirements have been met – preventing any future data governance issues. This remains with each device as compliance proof, should you ever need it.
Improved culture & productivity.
If two-thirds of consumers care about ethical companies, so do your employees. Personnel at sustainable businesses are reported to feel happier and more engaged with their work – creating a highly productive workforce. Sustainable businesses usually also make a positive social impact in their community and also treat their employees well. This positive work culture subsequently reduces staff absence and improves team retention, avoiding potential recruitment costs.
Supply chain resilience.
The pandemic and more recently the war in Ukraine have highlighted the fragility of the global supply chain, together with the impact these global events can have on our economy, such as inflation.
Reclaiming and recycling the perfectly reusable components that we already have is one of the most efficient sustainable IT practices. It also helps to improve supply chain resiliency; helping to reduce lead times for new equipment. In 2021, a global semiconductor chip shortage saw typical laptop and desktop lead times rise from 2-3 weeks to a possible 4.5 months. ++
IT asset disposal services recover these materials and ensure they are processed through the correct channels. Even when components cannot be reused, they are sent for further processing to break them down into their constituent parts, preventing the unnecessary extraction of virgin, raw materials.
Through responsible IT asset disposition, our IT industry can resourcefully utilise the components that we already have at our disposal, preventing negative environmental consequences associated with mining and improper landfill dumping.
Whilst responding to consumer demand, ethical business operations are not solely about making the world a better place by reducing e-waste and remaining compliant with environmental regulations, they are helping to build resilient remarketing supply chains for the future. By incorporating cost-effective sustainable IT practices, organisations will boost business productivity and profitability along with their ESG rating. Moreover, as businesses demand more sustainable technologies, manufacturers will have little choice but to respond, increasing circularity further still.
Looking to the long-term, by increasing our IT resource efficiency today, our businesses and the future generations which work within them, will continue to have access to the technology needed to succeed, tomorrow.
tier1’s circular, environmentally friendly ITAD services, include supportive lifecycle management solutions that help you maximise lifetime value and ROI, whilst boosting your ESG efforts.
As a Blancco Gold partner, our sustainable secure data erasure services guarantee data destruction, without destroying the device or its components. Ethically extending the lifespan of your technology, it can then be reused, redeployed or refurbished for resale.
To find out more about our sustainable data wiping services, refurbished technology procurement or any of our lifecycle management solutions, contact our friendly teams on 0161 777 1000 (Manchester), 01621 484380 (Maldon) or visit www.tier1.com
^ Gartner, +Barrons, citing IBM Institute for Business Value and the National Retail Federation, **OpenIT, ^^IBM, ++Total Computer Networks,
Gartner, IBM, Tech Target, Sustainability Success, Summit 360, Eliot Partnership, Open IT, APC, Total computers, Barrons, Signals IT, Accenture, Forbes,