Brice Bunner
Asset Management

ITAD policies are more important than ever with upcoming e-waste laws


Image ©: ERI Direct

Any business with a dozen or more employees will suddenly find themselves facing a major dilemma with regards to their retired IT assets. Until now, many e-recyclers pulled a profit by sending end-of-use devices overseas to crude reclamation sites in Hong Kong and other foreign shores. But things are about to change.

At the beginning of the year, a shell game was put in motion that has these recyclers scrambling to find a buyer for the growing piles of e-waste they have. As this game continues, the policies surrounding your business’s wastes, coupled with a robust IT Asset Disposition (ITAD) program, can be the pivotal positioning for where your business lands.

The time is right for policy-making

While we know that discarding e-waste is putting hazardous materials into the environment, there are still many companies who work around the state-by-state laws regarding e-waste. Thankfully, e-waste legislation is continuing to be tightened. But businesses should not wait until laws force them to act responsibly. Between how doing the right thing helps the environment, engages employees, and promotes the brand, it's in a company's best interest to have internal policies surrounding their e-waste. To say nothing of the fact that it’s the right thing to do.  

Take a moment to think about what proactive involvement leads to. When your business takes up any cause or campaign, don't the employees, loyal advocates, and passing social followers join in with the cause or campaign? Businesses have sway with communities and should be careful with that influence. 

This is why internal policies are truly the only way we are going to change the current system. When you hear about businesses resisting the trend to act in a sustainable way, what kind of message is that sending to the rest of the community? Shouldn’t businesses be the first to act in a way that promotes community wellbeing? After all, there is nothing more to bringing wellbeing than being responsible with your resources—and businesses use a lot of resources.  

The time is up for e-waste

While, unfortunately, landfilling IT assets which have reached their end-of-life does happen, more often than not, your IT assets are winding up as far away from your local dump as you could imagine. In fact, what many recyclers are doing (if they’re not sustainable) is shipping your devices overseas to a poorer country to deal with.

This has far more ramifications than this post alone can handle (so we’ve covered some of it here for you), but there is one aspect of this problem that directly affects the laws you might be anticipating. At the beginning of 2018, China told the world that it would no longer take the trash we’ve all been sending to them. This has caused very real ramifications that are even now changing the course of how corporate America handles its e-waste.

One of the bigger effects that can be seen from China’s refusal of waste is that other countries are joining in the conversation. In fact, the Thailand ban shows the growing resistance against receiving e-waste. It seems other countries just don’t want our toxic waste. 

Taking personal responsibility for the waste your company produces is the only way to insulate your business or organization against the inevitable resistance that will eventually leave our own shores choked with e-waste. Being responsible for the devices you want to disposition will mean your devices have more options than just landing on some shore, or filling the dump with toxic residue. And through company policy, you can make that change happen more quickly than waiting for the laws to shift.

But, before you say there’s just too much electronic gadgetry to deal with sustainably, consider the value a sustainable ITAD program or partner could do for your business. Only a conscientious ITAD program can enable businesses to avoid being affected by this ban, since exporting e-waste is the farthest thing from what that program would do.

Taking the time to find value

By outsourcing your ITAD to a sustainable company—and one that is e-Steward certified—you ensure that your partner is doing everything they can to prevent your e-waste from entering foreign waters. But more than that, you can rest assured any ITAD business willing to put their energy into the rigorous certification process and continual third-party audits that occur with e-Stewards, will also be interested in doing what’s right with your IT assets.

The whole reason non-certified recyclers might send your tech overseas is because they can receive money for doing so. So, for a sustainable ITAD company to make money, they have to get creative with refurbishing and reselling the devices. But, keep in mind that being responsible with your e-waste is also going to cost you something. Better that it be a few zeros after the dollar sign than a few deaths of children and ecosystems that being irresponsible can lead to.

So, get ahead of the laws that lawmakers are considering in light of this growing resistance to e-waste by creating solid policies within your company that push your business to be as sustainable as it can with its IT assets. And connect with a sustainably-minded ITAD partner to help you achieve the best results with the end-of-life devices your business has. Then you can rest easy knowing yours is a business safe from scandal and fines, making a positive difference in your community, and leading the way toward a better future.

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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