Considering that e-waste is becoming a growing waste problem around the world, “out with the old, in with the new” has taken on new meaning. In fact, in 2016, about 49 million tons of e-waste were discarded. Experts say that number is expected to rise to more than 57 million tons by 2021.
With overwhelming numbers, it may feel like reducing e-waste is a losing battle. However, there are simple steps your company can take to put a dent in the amount of computers, phones and monitors discarded each year. And, even when your company must dispose of its e-waste, there are steps you can take to ensure it is done safely and responsibly.
Here are 4 easy ways to improve your company’s electronic waste management.
1. Embrace Cloud Services
It may seem like a simple addition to your IT setup, but by embracing cloud services, you can make a major dent in the amount of electronic equipment your company uses.
You wouldn’t be alone, either. A report issued by RightScale, a cloud solutions provider, found that more than 90% of companies have incorporated cloud technology into how they conduct their business.
Cloud storage, in particular, allows companies to cut down on the number of physical electronic devices it requires, including servers and circuit boards. According to an Enterprise Cloud Computing Survey, 29% of businesses are using cloud storage, but 43% have plans to move at least part of their storage to cloud-based services.
Cloud services also make the transition to hiring more remote workers a little easier. Cloud-based systems are often easier to maintain and don’t require a specialized IT team. And as more companies are shifting to embrace flexible solutions for employees, cloud-based systems provide a safe solution since they can be accessed from anywhere across the globe.
2. Donate Electronics You No Longer Use
If your company’s electronics are still in working order and you’re simply replacing them with more updated models, donation provides an opportunity to keep devices out of landfills and help others in need.
Several organizations in the United States will accept donated electronics, though they vary by location.
Organizations like Computers With Causes and TechSoup will refurbish electronic products and give them to educational or nonprofit organizations that help those in need.
Before donating, make sure you remove any sensitive data from the devices that could put your company at risk. This includes not only financial data, but copyright and other proprietary data as well.
Keep in mind that deleting files doesn’t necessarily remove the data from viewing. If you are unsure of how to effectively remove company data from your electronics, enlist the help of a computer professional who can ensure your drives are cleaned off in order to protect your company from data thieves.
3. Check Manufacturers For Recycling Programs
Before discarding electronics, check with the company that manufacturers the electronics you use. It may offer its own recycling program.
This offers several advantages. First, many manufacturers like Toshiba will offer product discounts through them if you return devices you no longer use to them. You can then apply that discount to a future purchase with the manufacturer.
Once they receive these devices, they have the knowledge to disassemble them, reuse components and safely discard other components that could be hazardous to the environment.
Many companies like Dell and BlackBerry will handle the pickup of the e-waste or allow you to download free pre-paid mailing labels as well.
4. Ensure Electronic Waste Is Properly Disposed Of
Often a company will generate e-waste that is not accepted as donations or in manufacturer recycling programs. A company may also generate large volumes of e-waste that cannot be easily transported offsite.
Other times, e-waste can be potentially hazardous, making proper electronic waste disposal even more important.
A certified e-waste disposal company can help solve several electronic waste disposal issues, including:
- Transportation of large quantities of e-waste to collection sites
- Determination of what e-waste can be safely disposed of on your own versus what requires hazardous waste disposal by law
- Coordination with drop-off facilities that will accept your type of e-waste
- Quick disposal of e-waste to reduce downtime among employees
A certified e-waste disposal company can simply make the process of disposing your e-waste easier as well. While California’s Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery, known as CalRecycle, offers a directory on its website that allows you to search for a drop-off site nearby, this site does not provide a list of items a particular facility accepts.
That means you will have to do the legwork to determine which facility accepts your particular type of e-waste and quantity of e-waste.
If you have a steady stream of e-waste at your facility, a waste disposal company can help you set up a regular schedule for disposal, providing you with peace of mind that your e-waste is being disposed of responsibly and safely.
For more tips on how to recycle your e-waste, visit our article, How To Recycle Electronic Waste.