How IT Asset Disposition (ITAD) helps your Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Strategy
The alignment of your ITAD strategy with your CSR strategy creates social benefits and rewards for all.
In many ways, the honeymoon is over for Big Tech. While the last twenty years has revolutionised corporate and social life, the road to tech salvation has not always been paved with gold.
The fanfare which accompanied Big Data has been somewhat overshadowed by data leaks and the intentional misuse of personal data. And while we are all enamoured by technical advancements such as smartphones and tablets, the reality is that the earth is finitely resourced and cannot sustain the endless production of such products.
Furthermore, with an eye on the future, how the earth will power such devices is also problematic.
With a cynical eye being turned on Big Tech, there has never been a more important time for companies to develop an ITAD strategy which aligns to an overall CSR strategy.
The concept of CSR emerged in the 1960s, yet it has taken nearly 50 years for it to become mainstream. In essence, CSR is a form of corporate self-regulation, though this is changing from a tech perspective with environmental and data regulations.
Broadly speaking, a CSR strategy can cover philanthropy and volunteering to ensuring that a company has an ethical supply chain.
From an ITAD perspective, it’s in the supply chain where the most value can be added to a CSR strategy.
How ethical your supply chain is a question which has different answers depending on your business sector. However, regardless of your sector, when it comes to ITAD, the supply chain covers the purchasing of and disposing of IT assets.
While it may be difficult to ascertain the ethical conditions of the factory or location where an electronic asset was manufactured, there are ethical steps which you can make when it comes to the purchasing of your devices.
For example, you can ensure that new devices are TCO certified. This is the world’s most comprehensive sustainability certification for IT products and helps to drive greater environmental and social responsibility in eight product categories. The categories include environmentally responsible manufacturing, product performance, reduction of hazardous performance, and material recovery.
When it comes to the disposition of assets, by choosing a certified ITAD partner, you can ensure that all devices are stripped of their worth before being disposed of.
For example, smartphones and computers rely on many materials called ‘rare earth elements’ such as indium, platinum and silver. Mostly mined in China, these finite resources can be reused or recycled as part of your ITAD strategy.
As assets reach their End of Life (EOL), their parts can be stripped for reusing throughout your organisation, or for reselling on the global ‘as new’ spares market.
If the parts are not needed within your organisation, or cannot be resold, donating assets to charity is another way of taking pressure off global supplies.
Last year the EU adopted a package of design measures to ensure that household items are more repairable by forcing manufacturers to sell spare parts. Such ‘Right to Repair’ regulations will come into effect next year in the EU, and while they do not yet cover IT assets, there is mounting pressure for IT manufacturers to adopt similar guidelines, which should be supported.
With the proliferation of electronic devices, it’s no surprise that the amount of electronic or e-waste is constantly rising. According to the United Nations, every year 50 million tonnes of e-waste is produced; less than a decade ago, it was just over 30 million tonnes.
As for the worst offenders, it’s the richest continent on earth – Europe. Europeans generate the most e-waste per capita, at 15.6 kg per person.
Most shockingly, only 20 percent of the world’s e-waste will be collected and recycled. Typically, a lot of it will end up in landfills, often handled by children in some of the world’s poorest countries, with little regard for the environmental impact of such waste.
Starting your CSR strategy
According to Forbes magazine, the first step in implementing a CSR strategy is to ensure that it is connected to your core business purpose and overall strategy. There’s little point in having a CSR strategy in one department, while the rest of the business may ignore it. Also, it’s vital that the most senior people in your organisation have bought into the strategy; without such support, your strategy may never take off.
Furthermore, it’s important that your external partners have CSR strategies in place; this will encourage you to develop your strategy quicker while sharing knowledge and experience.
Ultimately, the aim of a CSR strategy is simple: by taking steps to improve the environment and society in general, you are helping to build your organisation’s reputation. Whereas, the alternative may unintentionally expose your company to unethical practices.
As Warren Buffet said, ‘It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.’