Sustainability is a big concept. More than just ‘Green’, the United Nations Global Compact defines corporate sustainability as “…a company’s delivery of long-term value in financial, social, environmental and ethical terms”. That’s a simple enough definition, but understanding how to turn something as broad as this into reality is a little more difficult.
Personally, I’m a firm believer that if something is hard to understand then it’s going to be a tough challenge getting people behind it. So we looked at creating a sustainability strategy that you can explain in one sentence – one that addresses the areas that are issues for our own business and, most importantly, for our clients. As we’re an IT company, we particularly looked at the areas where IT has either a positive or negative impact.
What we came up with is really simple – to reduce travel, energy and waste for our business, our employees and our clients.
Now, this is never going to win any awards for innovation or complexity. However, nobody can argue that controlling travel and energy isn’t a vital part of ensuring the sustainability of any business, and you’ve only got to look at the growth in videoconferencing and the energy impact of data centres to understand the role that IT has to play here.
What about waste though? I’ve noticed that the topic of waste is shamefully missing from the agendas of many sustainability discussions and also many IT strategies – probably because it doesn’t have a direct carbon impact, and it’s also not such a ‘cool’ subject as, say, cloud or mobility. Like it or not, though, electronic waste creates the following issues:
- E-waste is a growing environmental and social issue – e-waste is harmful to health and the environment, and the global volume is expected to grow from 41.5 million tons in 2011 to 93.5 million tons in 2016*.
- Disposing of e-waste globally is not as simple as it should be – there’s a multitude of global government legislations and manufacturer take-back schemes to understand, and companies that specialise in e-waste tend to be relatively small, localised businesses.
- E-waste is a technology lifecycle management issue – it’s really important to understand the point at which technology stops being useful and becomes waste.
So, we’ve decided we need to do something to help. On 12 November, we extend our Technology Lifecycle Management Assessment service to address what happens beyond a piece of technology reaching the end of its useful life. We’ve worked closely with key manufacturers, such as Cisco and EMC, as well as global e-waste partners to provide a framework for our clients to be able to dispose of their electronic waste across multiple geographies in a manner that’s environmentally friendly, ethical, secure and – perhaps most importantly – cost-effective.
Our approach is founded on really simple principles that we call our ‘four zeros’:
- Zero landfill – we aim to eliminate the disposal of e-waste in landfill sites.
- Zero exploitation – disposal of e-waste should take place in ethical working conditions.
- Zero data – data will be destroyed during disposal, so security is not compromised.
- Zero cost – cost is an inhibitor to good stewardship, so our aim is to minimise or remove this.
By combining this approach with our Technology Lifecycle Management Assessment to provide upfront visibility of future disposal and budget requirements, clients gain control of their complete technology lifecycle.
Our aim for releasing this service is simple. We believe that disposing of electronic waste in an environmentally friendly, ethical and secure manner is an unnecessarily complex issue for many businesses, particularly when dealing with multiple geographies. We want to make this simpler, and raise the understanding that an effective disposal strategy begins with effective lifecycle management.
You can find out more about our Technology Lifecycle Management e-waste service here.