The latest America Recycles Day came and went this week, with the requisite flood of press releases about electronic waste (aka e-waste) flooding my email inbox.
That’s because the high-tech industry continues to churn through and discard a troubling amount of gadgets — especially (as you might expect) mobile stuff like cell phones. The United States alone sends roughly 135 million of them to landfills every year.
That’s a number that companies like Sprint are determined to reduce: the company now collects about 40 percent of the devices it sells or distributes at the end of their life (about 11 million gadgets last year). It is striving to increase that rate up to 9 out of every 10 devices by 2017.
What about the bigger stuff? Many of the biggest high-tech companies including Dell, Hewlett-Packard and IBM have established collection programs to facilitate take back of servers, personal computers, monitors and other accessories. It’s a big push for the leasing arms of all these companies.
Channel partners and systems integrators have been much more quiet about the issue, but that may be changing.
Global IT services giant Dimension Data this week launched an expansive e-waste collection service that is part of its broader technology asset management portfolio. It figures that more than 60 million tons of e-waste will be considered for reuse or recycling in 2013, and it believes it has an opportunity to help its clients asses the best options for those items.
“Expanding our technology lifecycle management assessment to include an e-waste solution means our expert advice doesn’t start at the point of disposal,” said Colin Curtis, the company’s director of sustainability, in a statement about the new service. “We can now assess the strength of each item in a technology base, determine its point in the lifecycle, and then use best practices to dispose of elapsed devices and equipment in an ecological and regulatory-compliant manner. In addition, the organization’s security and brand are not negatively impacted.”
That last point is something that can’t be emphasized enough.
There is one big reason that businesses are paying more attention to e-waste: compliance.
That’s because ignoring the proper disposal of IT equipment means a company could become liable for sending toxic substances to a landfill, not to mention the data privacy implications.
As the technology consolidation movement continues and upgrades start to happen throughout 2013, this will only become more of a pressing issue – one that your services team must be ready to discuss.