E-waste disposal is a major challenge. Although it accounts for about 2 percent of all waste in landfills, the materials used in making the equipment and gadgets that run today’s businesses represent 70 percent of all hazardous waste, according to Popular Science.
Computers, tablets, flat-screen displays, switches, and all the other devices the modern world relies on are made with materials that can be dangerous if not disposed of responsibly or even contain recoverable nonrenewable resources, like gold, silver, platinum, or copper. With no technological downtrends in the foreseeable future, properly discarding and recycling old tech is crucial.
On top of thinking responsibly about e-waste disposal and electronics recycling, you also need to prepare for the number of regulatory changes coming into effect that will place hefty obligations on companies to plan for the ethical disposal of their electronics as part of the purchasing lifecycle.
Regulators are getting strict on e-waste disposal
In the wake of China pulling back on the amount of e-waste it will allow other countries to export and dump on its shores, Thailand also plans to ban imports of 432 types of scrap electronics during the first part of 2019, according to Reuters. Meanwhile, in Australia, the Victorian government will ban e-waste from landfills as of July 2019. The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) in Victoria has a number of specific policies in place for dealing with the disposal of different items, including e-waste disposal.
As more governments look locally and globally to solve the challenges caused by e-waste disposal, it’s time for businesses to think sustainably and plan accordingly.
You need to start planning ahead to keep up
The good news is that manufacturers of electronic goods are thinking about the problem, too, and not leaving it to their customers to solve on their own. When choosing your computer hardware, smartphones, printers, televisions, and other electronics, look at the company’s environmental policies.
Many businesses have partnered with firms that carry out electronics recycling where they either reclaim the precious and dangerous materials used in electronic devices or repurpose and sell the items, so the products have a longer life than your corporate depreciation cycle. One example is HP’s Planet Partners program, which works with local businesses around the world to collect e-waste—either for resale or recycling.
Local schools, kindergartens, and community groups are often grateful recipients of used computers, too. While a three-year-old computer might not be up to the tasks you expect with the latest applications, it’s likely more than serviceable for someone else. And if engaging with local groups directly is too hard, there are electronics recycling companies that will come to you and collect the equipment, allowing you to do your part for the environment while saving you time and effort.
Your part matters—and it starts earlier than you think
Having an effective process in place for dealing with e-waste isn’t difficult. But the process doesn’t start when you are planning to dispose of an item—it begins when you are making your purchasing decisions.
Choose hardware that’s made with recyclability by design, and partner with vendors who will support you through an ethical disposal process. This way, you can make the recycling process easier on you and your business from the moment you buy your tech, allowing you to avoid unnecessary headaches down the road when it’s time to part ways with it.
Finally, make sure you monitor changes in local laws and keep track of global trends that may impact your business, too. With some judicious decision-making and preparation, dealing with e-waste shouldn’t cost your business an arm and a leg.