It’s always a good thing when the biggest kid on the playground makes friends with you. And that’s what e-Stewards is likely feeling right about now. Sony, that big electronics manufacturer you might have heard of, just signed on to be e-Steward certified, and did so with high praise about the certifying organization. It’s a Valentine’s tale of match-making we’d like to revel in today.
Light shines brighter in the darkness
It’s no surprise that the world is facing some dark days, but I mention this merely to show how amazing things like Sony’s recent decision is. While e-waste is a scourge on our planet, it is equally true that good people everywhere are taking up the charge to help this world recover from the damage that’s been done. And when a globally visible corporation throws its hat in with those good people, the light of hope shines even brighter.
One of the good people bringing light to this dark place is Jim Puckett, founder of the Basel Action Network (BAN). His relentless work in exposing the gaps in global methods for dealing with e-waste and massive toxic dumping that occurs around the world, has brought the message of e-waste to public attention. And it’s because of his watchdogging, most likely, that Sony saw the good in being responsible with its e-waste.
e-Stewards and the good fight
BAN is an organization founded on the principles of the Basel Convention, which was first established in 1992. Jim Puckett saw the value in establishing a clear definition of the electronic waste our world produces, so he established the Basel Action Network to help keep the Basel Convention intent true. His love for our planet and the countries that often get dumped on by our progress has led him to create a number of systems and institutions to specifically handle the byproducts of industrialization.
One of these institutions is the e-Stewards program. Jim and the BAN team created a robust certification for e-recyclers that would be based on something other than internal regulations. This program exists to encourage and maintain the high standards needed to process and responsibly handle electronic devices after they have outlived their usefulness, but does so with the Basel Convention set of hazardous waste regulations guiding it.
e-Stewards is a rigorous compliancy that any recycler, ITAD company, or manufacturer can to agree to. In doing so, they subject themselves to very strict, Basel-convention oriented limitations on how they can handle e-waste—both in how they handle it internally as well as what happens to the waste after passing through their facilities. This is not love-at-first-sight, either; companies don’t become e-Steward certified on a whim.
Cupid hits his mark
Since the early 2000s, Sony has been looking at ways to prove its mettle when it comes to the war on waste that manufacturers are just now beginning to wage. We are still several years off from becoming a circular economy (which absolutely needs to happen, by the way), so in the meantime, reducing the amount of waste created, as well as how that waste is reclaimed or dispositioned, is of paramount concern. Especially when you’re responsible for the lion’s share of that waste, as was the case with Sony’s digital footprint.
Many companies talk a good bit about being sustainable, or coming up with ways to curb their involvement in the global digital dump that’s been happening, but when a manufacturer agrees to submit their processes to the e-Steward standard, it’s no longer lip-service. This move is a bold stroke in Sony’s plan for going green, and one that shows they are willing to put their money where their mouth is.
Sony has been a leader in sustainability in the same way as they’ve been instrumental in creating the digital landscape we have today. Many of our devices have been built or designed off the foundation of Sony’s earliest innovations—even if they were created by other manufacturers. Sony’s fingerprints have been all over the devices that BAN has been tracking—almost as if they were courting each other.
The catch-22 of being an industry-leader is that you are pursuing success while also creating an ever-widening wake of waste. Sony realized this as unsustainable long before the term was fashionable. Every effort the manufacturer has made, however, in pushing for sustainability has been subject to internal forces. A bad year and those budgets get cut.
So, when we saw Sony moving toward e-Stewards certification, we instantly knew the kind of commitment Sony had in mind. By making that decision external—through the 3rd-party audits that e-Stewards demands—Sony has locked arms with a truly eco-friendly partnership.