Brice Bunner

Conscientious recycling needs your support… for your sake


Image ©: My Suburban Life As much as we dislike recycling (see what we mean by that here), we always hate to see good recyclers take a dive while disingenuous recyclers keep getting business.

The truth is that not all recyclers are equal. Thankfully, however, there is a way to quickly separate the wheat from the chaff in this regard, and that’s with a single certification.

The proof is in the process

When determining the best recycler to use for dispensing your IT assets, it’s important to look at the goal of the recycler. Are they aiming for sustainability or are they just shredding and forgetting your assets? This singular differentiation can mean your assets either become valuable source material for manufacturers or they wind up on a shore halfway across the globe.

Of course, we know the problems with the latter scenario.

But how do you determine which recyclers actually care about the environment enough to be worth your business? We say: look at the certifications they hold. Investing time and energy on a more robust certification proves that recycler is in it for the right reasons. The e-Steward certification requires an arduous and highly-specific compliance that no one would do without a good reason. So, this certification serves as a great indicator as to where the heart of that recycler truly is. In other words: the costs to become e-Steward certified are just too high to warrant “faking it.”

The cost of doing it right

To be sustainable—doing the right thing for the people, the planet, and profits is almost always going to cost more. It’s why investing in your business is so important. For our money; the environment, your security, and a clean conscience all live comfortably at the top of that list.

However, there are also more tangible reasons to choose an e-Stewards recycler than just seeking a clean conscience. For example, the Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) of your company can increase significantly by aligning with an IT recycler with sustainable aims. In fact, much of the additional cost that comes from e-Steward recyclers can be justified by the bump your ESG performance receives when making this move.

As for those other costs, we’ve got a solution there, too. Only, it doesn’t come through the recycler. It actually comes from being more sustainable with your IT assets before you send them to be recycled. I’m talking, of course, about sustainable IT Asset Management and Disposition. By looking at the intrinsic value of the devices your business retires, you can actually earn some return on the resale, reuse, or refurbishment of your devices—not to mention saving by not having to recycle as much.

Double down for even more return

Recycling IT assets can be a daunting task. Between the cost of having it done in an environmentally-secure way and the logistics of coordinating those devices’ disposition, it can be easy to look for ways to minimize the effort or financial strain it creates. To this we can only urge you to look at the ways e-Steward certification helps grow your credibility as a sustainably-oriented company.

Now, I get it. You’re using an R2 certified recycler. The logic is understandable; R2 certification is recognized by many as the leading standardization in recycling. But even though R2’s foundation was rooted in the same place as e-Stewards, e-Stewards is the only certification that still holds fast to the Basel Convention’s comprehensive list of toxic waste. And, as a result of following that list, e-stewards compliance also exceeds NIOSH, NAID (for data erasure), and OSHA requirements for the workers.  

This kind of thoroughness explains the higher costs that come with the e-Steward recycler—both for the recycler themselves as well as the conscientious company using them. And that can be good for you.

We’re almost done, but I’ve got one more reason using e-Stewards is better: it insulates your company from international crimes.

Illegal e-waste exportation always costs more

If the ESG bump, clean conscience, and tighter security aren’t enough to convince you to choose an e-Stewards recycler, maybe avoiding the fines for unwittingly being involved in international e-waste crimes will. As more and more non-certified recyclers are caught exporting IT assets to foreign shores the likelihood that your own sensitive materials might wind up in Thailand or Turkey is fairly high. And, should that be traced back to your company, the effects would be disastrous. No matter how you slice it, that’s a far steeper price to pay than doing the right thing.

In light of that sobering fact, whether or not your company is looking to increase its sustainability performance, the responsibility you take for your e-waste needs to include valuing recyclers who take the higher road. Otherwise, you could be paying far more than you want to recycle your IT assets.

About Sage

Sage Sustainable Electronics leads the market in sustainable IT asset management and disposition (ITAD) by reusing more and recycling less. Every year, businesses retire millions of used-but-still-useful technology products, creating the fastest growing business and consumer waste stream in the world. We strategically and passionately help companies reuse more and recycle less than anyone else in the industry.

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