HOW ITAD COMPANIES HELP YOU MAINTAIN EFFICIENT AND ETHICAL SUPPLY CHAINS
How itad companies help you maintain efficient and ethical supply chains
As technology continues to evolve and mature, the value of capable ITAD companies is becoming more and more apparent. Not least in the area of supply chain and reverse logistics.
Any supply chain that involves IT assets carries with it inherent risks that require mitigation or removal, for both financial and social reasons. The fact that an inefficient supply chain can hurt your organization’s bottom line will drive the point home for many, but CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) is also a significant factor.
The transfer of IT assets, regardless of the direction in which it is flowing, includes both legal and environmental risks. The legalities will vary from state to state, but, as an example, it is often the case that you are not allowed to dispose of your retired IT equipment in traditional landfills. The risks to your business are not just legal in nature, of course. Disposing of retired IT assets can present significant security risks for companies with sensitive data. Electronic recycling and data destruction are critical services that any IT asset disposal company will offer.
From a more social standpoint, data leaks as a result of mismanaged IT assets can hurt your reputation and damage the trust your customers have in you. It should be the goal of any ethical company not to be beholden only to their bottom line.
Of course, a large corporation is a complicated machine, and the good intentions of some rarely lead to the good actions of the whole. That is why an effective CSR strategy is needed.
What Does CSR Look Like?
Corporate Social Responsibility can mean many things. In the context of a supply chain; how environmentally friendly is it? Does your supply chain benefit from inhumane work conditions? Whether your company performs volunteer work or contributes to charities also factors into CSR, but is less relevant from an ITAD perspective.
In the past, CSR has acted as a kind of self-regulation for corporate entities. However, increasing fears over both the handling of personal data and protecting our environment have led to increased regulation. One of the benefits of working with top ITAD companies is the confidence that you will not fall afoul of any national or international regulations regarding the transfer of IT assets.
For ITAD companies, the supply chain is where CSR plays the most significant role. Responsible IT asset disposal, secure destruction of data in any form, and recycling. These are the tools an ITAD company can provide.
Recycling and Re-marketing through ITAD Companies
All IT hardware, from phones to data center servers, contains materials known as “rare earth elements”. As the name suggests, these are not materials we have in abundance on Earth.
Consisting of elements such as platinum, indium, and silver, rare earth materials are a finite resource that is mostly found in China. It is the rarity of these materials—and the impact extracting them has on the environment—that makes it vitally important to recycle and reuse IT assets wherever possible.
IT asset disposition can play many roles in this respect. Assets that have reached their End of Life, or EOL, can be thoroughly stripped of all usable parts. They can then be used in your organization as spares or re-marketed through ITAD vendors. Either way, the lifetime value of that asset is extended while simultaneously protecting the environment from unnecessary waste.
Donation is another option. If an asset has no value to your organization and cannot be resold, donating it through your ITAD partner it is a responsible way of disposing of it and taking pressure off of the global supplies of those rare materials. Donations also carry with them undeniable benefits in terms of public relations.
ITAD Companies Ensure Safe Data Destruction
The disposal of IT assets comes with inherent security risks in the form of data. It may be data that is sensitive to your business or the personal data of your customers.
When re-marketing or recycling IT assets, from business phones to decommissioned data center assets, proper secure data destruction must be employed. The shine of Big Data has rubbed off somewhat in recent years with every costly data leak that has occurred, and disposing of IT assets without proper consideration to the data on those assets opens your business up to this kind of risk.
Only you can know the value of sensitive proprietary data. But the cost of data leaks that include customer data has been shown repeatedly in recent years.
You will find that the largest ITAD companies will never require you to “trust” that they have adequately destroyed your data. From stringent certifications to video evidence, and even onsite data shredding services, you will be left in no doubt that your data is gone, and safe from falling into malicious hands.
It should come as no surprise that electronic waste is a growing environmental problem. After all, the number of devices we own grows yearly, so it stands to reason that the number of devices we throw away is seeing a similar rise.
The amount of e-waste produced today is very near double that of a decade ago. With current trends, this is unlikely to slow down anytime soon, except perhaps in the event of a resource shortage of those rare earth elements.
Unfortunately, only around 20% of this waste will be collected and recycled, with much of the rest ending up in landfills. These landfills are often in some of the world’s poorest countries where environmental regulation is not as strict. And if that weren’t bad enough, it is commonplace for children to handle this waste.
There is nothing to feel good about with irresponsible IT asset disposal from an ethical standpoint. These problems are often seen as a national problem, with individual nations not concerning themselves with the e-waste management of other countries, but this is an international problem.
Global ITAD companies, like Wisetek, know the damage improper IT asset disposal can cause, and work to mitigate and remove this problem through proper e-waste recycling methods, only when reuse or resale is not an option.
Ensuring the supply chain is ethically managed is not always an easy task, particularly for large, global companies that work with international partners.
Say your business makes a deal with a distributor on the other side of the globe. And that distributor uses a particular manufacturer, and that manufacturer contracts some work out to a small, local, workshop. It would be challenging for you to ensure that every step of that chain is ethical. This challenge only grows when you add in multiple distributors, manufacturers, and contractors.
There are ways to mitigate the risk of unintentionally benefiting from an unethical supply chain, however, such as certification. For example; ensuring any new devices you purchase are TCO certified.
In terms of the sustainability of an IT product supply chain, TCO certification is about as comprehensive as it gets. The use of this certification ensures greater social and environmental responsibility in several areas, including;
- Product performance
- Reduction of hazardous materials
- Environmentally responsible manufacturing
- Material recovery
Getting Started with CSR
It is essential when implementing a corporate social responsibility strategy that the policies be linked to your core business. If your CSR strategy only applies to some of your departments, leaving the others to ignore it freely, it is an ineffective strategy, and your organization will likely not reap the rewards of CSR.
One step to ensuring your plan succeeds is to make sure the senior members of your organization are on board. Few large organizations are a one-person show, and without the support of fellow executives, any burgeoning CSR strategy will be doomed to fail.
Encouraging your external partners to have CSR strategies in place—or choosing your partners based on whether they have such an approach or not—will also help. It will encourage you to develop your policies more quickly and give you an immediate partner with which to share knowledge and experience as you forge this new ground.
Your Organization’s Reputation
While much of corporate social responsibility is optional, and entirely down to individual companies to pursue, it is crucial to consider your reputation.
The effects of a bad reputation are not as immediate as, say, a drop in sales, but they can be just as devastating and have far longer-lasting consequences.
As the world shifts evermore towards sustainability and a circular economy, environmental consciousness, and increased human and worker rights, leaving your business exposed to unethical practices makes less and less sense.
ITAD Companies Take the Burden
Through comprehensive global re-marketing networks, secure data destruction, and strict adherence to a wide range of certifications, ITAD companies can keep your supply chains ethical.
It is the business of ITAD companies to ensure smooth up and downstream operation of your supply chains, as well as protect your business's interests through comprehensive data destruction services.
Implementing an effective CSR strategy is no small task, but it is not a task you need to undertake alone.