The Legitimate Role ITAD Plays in Corporate Sustainability Initiatives
Talk of sustainability is not just a trend, it’s become a bona fide responsibility. Companies across all fields and of all sizes are expected to demonstrate to consumers their commitment to the environment. Many take carbon pledges and advertise their commitment to going carbon-neutral by 2030. Some are tying executive compensation to their environmental, social and governance (ESG) initiatives. Very few tell us how exactly they’re going to do it, and of course, sometimes you hear about a company’s Great New Goal, and then, you never hear about it again. The marketing of ‘green’ initiatives that have little or no environmental result is called “Greenwashing,” and it has unfortunately become extremely commonplace.
Greenwashing describes attempted or marketed initiatives that benefit a company’s reputation more than the environment. An example would be a coffee chain eliminating straws but replacing them with a lid made of more plastic than the straw and the lid combined. Greenwashing often comes in claims that are vague or have no proof, like claiming that a new process reduces waste but not providing any data. It might have a hidden trade off or be the lesser of two evils, like recycled plastic packaging. It might simply be the green leaf symbol on a disposable coffee cup that means nothing.
Examples of Greenwashing in Technology
Greenwashing in consumer technology isn’t hard to find. Many major consumer technology companies implement “green” initiatives that clash with their business practices. For example, one consumer device provider has pledged to go carbon neutral by 2030 but previously designed the repair process for its products to be famously cost prohibitive, making it cheaper to throw the device out and buy a new one, resulting in more device sales—and more e-waste.
Moving to the cloud is a good example of greenwashing in the enterprise. Moving to the cloud from on-prem is often touted as a green measure. After all, you are no longer running your own equipment. Some reports claim that cloud data centers are more efficient and reduce energy consumption and environmental impact. However, it’s easy to forget that the cloud is really just off-prem storage, and the devices are still being run. According to a Lancaster University study, the cloud is responsible for up to 1.5% of greenhouse gas emissions annually, equaling more than 110 million tons of carbon emissions. Part of the problem is that moving to the cloud also has companies keeping more data than they would on-prem, increasing environmental impact.
The Problem with E-Waste
E-Waste, on the whole, fails to be recycled properly—and the problem is only growing. Between enterprise and consumer electronics, more than 55 million tons are produced each year, according to a 2019 study performed by the UN. Only 20% was formally recycled. Much of the waste that is not formally recycled either ends up in landfills or informally recycled, causing exposure to carcinogens through direct exposure or contamination of soil and groundwater. Valuable components like gold and cobalt that are contained in these devices are lost.
ITAD as a Green Initiative
An ITAD program adds substance to environmental initiatives and secures value for businesses. After all, every piece of hardware will eventually need to be decommissioned and disposed of according to environmental regulations. Having a codified ITAD program ensures not only that equipment will be properly recycled, it also ensures that data stored on the equipment will be properly wiped or destroyed, protecting brand reputation and confidential information. ITAD also introduces opportunities for reuse of hardware, returning money to IT budgets and giving hardware new life. ITAD is a common-sense way to add to ESG initiatives, protecting the planet, data, and the bottom line.
ITAD by CentricsIT
CentricsIT is a full-service ITAD provider, offering customizable ITAD solutions for companies that manage thousands of devices. Our portal, CentricsIQ, provides total transparency to the ITAD process, allowing clients to track each piece of equipment processed and providing a certificate of destruction or of data destruction for each one. We pride ourselves on our commitment to sustainability, reusing equipment whenever possible and recycling the rest according to environmental standards. CentricsIT is proud to maintain certifications relating to sustainability and quality management, including ISO 14001 and ISO 9001.