How Leaders Can Reduce The Environmental Impact Of Electronic Waste

The impact of electronic waste (e-waste) on our environment is a significant concern—especially as enterprises across the globe increase the use of electronic devices to innovate and attract new talent. Today, according to sustainability research from SOTI, a leading provider of mobile and IoT device management solutions, nearly 7 in 10 U.S. IT leaders are replacing devices prematurely and, even more, close to half (41.6%) replace mobile phones, handhelds and wearables simply for a shiny newer model.

Changes can be made in IT departments to reduce corporate e-waste and introduce Green IT solutions that reduce the negative impact IT operations have on the environment. As Shash Anand, SOTI’s vice president of product strategy points out, it begins with leadership’s knowledge of a device’s lifespan. The longer the device’s lifespan, the fewer hardware replacements IT departments conduct, saving leaders’ capital and positively impacting the environment. For those looking to make the necessary changes, Anand recommends the following small steps to adapt and adjust their sustainability practices.

Increase the Lifespan of Mobile Devices with Their Batteries

When enterprises have a mix of new and older devices to manage among their workforce, their natural inclination may be to simply update the older devices. But just like a car, regular maintenance and service can keep devices clean and help extend the lifespan.

The same idea applies to Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) solutions, according to Anand. He adds, “having visibility into each device, plus a snapshot of what’s needed to increase its battery life, helps teams save on capital and begin to properly maintain the lifespan of their devices at scale. A few tips for better battery management include shorter idle times, using data to predict when batteries will fail, whether they will last a full shift when to replace them, and using battery dashboards to monitor the number of charge cycles and changes in temperature.”

Avoid Shipping Hardware

Due to a shift to a more hybrid working model, workers are scattered across various places or working remotely, making the process of getting a device repaired cumbersome with a lot of back and forth between the user and the IT department. Not only is this time-consuming, but it’s also an unnecessary burden on the environment with packaging, shipping and fuel costs.

The new way, as Anand describes, involves using a diagnostic intelligence tool that helps avoid shipping costs, reduces the environmental footprint, and saves time for the IT department and end-user. For example, when devices go down, it’s easier, faster, and greener to diagnose this information remotely versus shipping it back and forth. Not to mention, that the majority of time, it’s a software issue.

Recycle and Dispose of E-Waste Properly

As SOTI’s report outlines, 51.6% of IT leadership will replace tablets and laptops prematurely. And if requested to do so with no reason behind it, 38.2% will replace mobile phones, handhelds and wearables—leading wearables to top the list as 71% of most discarded devices.

With the latest and greatest devices rolling out every couple of months, it’s common for leaders to think the company needs the latest tech. Often there’s just no need to upgrade a device simply because it’s the latest one. Below are some ways leaders can reuse or recycle devices instead.

  • Share devices among workers: Are there other departments within the organization who could use and repurpose the devices? Perhaps replace a paper and pen process with a mobile device.
  • Donate devices no longer needed: Are the devices no longer working for workers or the company, but still in good working condition? Find a non-profit or small business who could benefit from using these devices. Be sure to wipe them and log out of any accounts before handing them over to ensure security and data privacy is maintained.
  • Research where in the community electronics can be recycled: If the devices cannot be reused or donated, be sure to recycle them properly. The simplest step IT departments can take to reduce e-waste is to ensure any electronics are disposed of properly.
  • Just like washing containers before they go into the recycling bin, it’s vital to clean and clear your previous device before you recycle it. EMM solutions can easily wipe their devices clean to ensure no corporate data is leaked.

Green IT is good business for IT departments, for companies, and of course, for the planet. Sustainability initiatives such as Green IT don’t have to be cumbersome. With some attention paid to sustainability, IT departments can add new and evolving goals to their sustainability practices, while leaders increase the currently low annual budgets and reduce the number of times devices are replaced.

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