Three-quarters of end-of-life IT equipment is not recycled

Corporate sustainability is woefully behind in one key area, according to a new study from Blancco Technology Group. The report, “Poor sustainability practices–enterprises are overlooking the e-waste problem,” examines green tech initiatives—specifically, how end-of-life equipment is sanitized and reused.

SEE: Green tech initiatives: Best practices and breakthroughs (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

The research is the final installment of a three-part report—the first is on end-of-life sanitation methods; the second is on data-sanitization—and focused on feedback from 1,850 senior decision makers at large-scale companies (with over 5000 employees) across the globe.

According to corporate leaders, only 24% of end-of-life equipment—such as computers, copiers, and fax machines is being sanitized and reused—despite the fact that a whopping 83% of these organizations have instituted Corporate Social Responsibility policies.

“In today’s global climate, sustainability should be at the heart of every business’ strategy,” said Fredrik Forslund, vice president, enterprise and cloud erasure solutions at Blancco, in the release.

Yet this is not what is happening. So here’s what to expect from the results, according to Blancco:

E-Waste on the rise

A false belief that physically destroying end-of-life IT equipment is “better for the environment” has led 39% of organizations to destroy IT assets. While this is a good solution for end-of-life hardware “when accompanied by a certificate of destruction and a full audit trail,” the press release states, it also risks putting toxic materials such as mercury into the environment, which has dangerous consequences.

Cyber landfill

Data creation is booming, as IT devices generate 2.5 quintillion bytes of data daily, the release states. Yet 94% of this data is sitting in a “cyber landfill,” the release says. This unused data is “consuming valuable energy resources.”

SEE: Earth Day turns 50: NASA throws an online celebration

The report cites three main reasons for these failures. First is a lack of education. Next is “a clear lack of ownership and communication,” the report states. “Dealing with end-of-life equipment is part of the majority of organizations’ CSR policy (91%) but this isn’t being communicated or properly enacted across the business,” it continues.

Finally, weak regulation policies are responsible. The report states that 22 US states don’t have e-waste laws in place. And the UK missed sustainability targets in 2018, even with the EU’s WEEE Directive and WEEE Regulations (2013).

“It’s clear from our research that organizations globally are not doing enough. By managing retired IT assets in a more environmentally friendly way, putting them back into the circular economy and removing unnecessary data in active environments–should be best practice for all organizations,” Forslund said in the release.

“Furthermore, by actively looking at the data they hold as part of their data lifecycle management initiatives and regularly and securely removing the data they no longer need, organizations will not only reduce their energy consumption– but also remain compliant,” he added.

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