/ 26 July 2022

Deal with IT waste in way that makes environmental and business sense

eWaste is the world’s fastest-growing solid-waste stream, increasing at a rate three times faster than general waste. (Photo by Marijan Murat/picture alliance via Getty Images)

eWaste is the world’s fastest-growing solid-waste stream, increasing at a rate three times faster than general waste. This has resulted in a change in market sentiment towards refurbished products, a process that extends the usable life of redundant IT equipment and reduces its environmental footprint.

It is, therefore, important for organisations to develop the best asset value recovery approach for the disposal of their old IT equipment, which can either be refurbished or dismantled for recycling. Reselling refurbished equipment not only increases the return on investment but also reduces the overall ecological impact.

It is especially important in the current economic climate, where access to technology has become critical. Refurbished electronics provide economically deprived communities with affordable technology that can be used for education, business and social interaction.

An IT asset management and disposal programme goes well beyond environmental concerns, it must make good business sense as well. It should take a comprehensive approach, from what equipment the organisation purchases to how they dispose of redundant assets.

The need to properly manage and recycle this waste offers business leaders the opportunity to transform their throwaway culture. An IT asset disposition programme is an excellent way to contribute to these sustainability goals and help solve this worldwide problem.

Purchase sustainable products

Businesses need to examine their procurement approaches because environmental issues are becoming a key buying decision for modern consumers. In short, they want to understand what they are buying and how it was built.

Promote reuse initiatives

Environmentally conscious businesses should promote reuse as the first option because manufacturing new products require materials and energy. These materials need to be extracted from the earth, the products need to be made and then transported to warehouses.

Electronic devices normally have a lifespan of 10 years and most corporate refreshes happen every three years. This means equipment has at least another seven years of useful life. So, the easiest way for these corporates to become more sustainable, and to save money at the same time, is by reusing their own electronics before they become waste.

The best way to promote a reuse culture is to incentivise IT asset disposition programmes. After all, it also makes financial sense. Studies show that extending a technology refresh by one year could save a company in the region of 5% of its annual revenue.

Donations to staff and charities are another way to extend the life of equipment. However, corporates need to partner with a refurbishing company to ensure equipment is prepared for reuse.


Electronics should be properly recycled once reuse is no longer an option. This is an essential way to improve sustainability goals. It is critical to choose an IT asset disposition  partner with the necessary certification. This will ensure the equipment is being disposed of in a responsible manner and is also in line with environmental regulations. More importantly, it will ensure the processing of all data-containing devices in a secure manner.

These certifications prove the IT asset disposition partner adheres to industry standards, procedures and regulations. To ensure IT equipment and data is being recycled properly, businesses need a partner that can deliver real-time access and complete visibility in the entire downstream process. This means they need to provide audited reports showing data such as the weight and location of the equipment that is reused, resold, donated or recycled.

Reputable resellers of refurbished equipment ensure electronics are sold in a like-new condition. Buying refurbished is an eco-friendlier option and this equipment costs substantially less than new, allowing businesses to stretch their budget further. This will also enable them to deploy higher-spec equipment than their budget would afford if they bought new.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Mail & Guardian.