Have you heard about the circular economy? This relatively new concept is much more than just a buzzword— it’s an approach to ITAD, waste, and asset management that has the potential to transform businesses and the world for the better.
In this article, we’ll answer some of the most common questions relating to the circular economy, including:
- What is the circular economy?
- What are the benefits of adopting the circular economy model?
- How does the circular economy relate to IT asset disposition?
- What’s the relationship between sustainability and profitability when it comes to the circular economy?
Let’s begin by exploring the basics of the circular economy and what it means for you and your business.
What is the Circular Economy Model?
In 2019 alone, the world threw away roughly 300 million tons of plastic. That’s roughly 600 billion pounds, or the approximate weight of every human being on earth combined.
2020 led to a slight reduction in waste due to the pandemic, but it’s a dip that can’t be expected to naturally continue unless we begin taking dramatic steps to reduce our use of resources.
Meanwhile, reduced environmental impact isn’t the only reason we should stop throwing so much away. It also helps businesses reduce wasteful spending, get more life out of their assets, and become more efficient overall in their everyday operations.
All of these benefits have led to an asset management model known as the ‘circular economy.’ This cutting-edge approach involves the reuse and recycling of resources, and more careful resource management overall rather than simply managing the plentiful waste that’s unfortunately become the norm in many businesses.
As ITAD (IT asset disposition) specialists ourselves, a layperson might think that our job here at Transpere is simply to dispose of waste. But the fact is that we put forth just as much effort helping businesses reuse and recycle their assets so that they can continue to be useful rather than adding to the environmental burden that’s already making its impact felt around the globe.
But sustainability is just one reason why you and your business should be embracing the circular economy.
Benefits of the Circular Economy
Wondering why you should embrace the circular economy for yourself or your business? Here are the three biggest reasons you should start actively investigating the relationship between the circular economy and IT equipment at your business.
We’ve already touched on this point above, but it’s worth exploring the recent history that’s led to a rise in sustainability concerns when it comes to IT asset disposition strategy. In 2019, research revealed the extent to which the global recycling marketplace failed to adequately turnover old equipment into new products. The issue came to a head when many of the countries that were once dependably accepting recycled goods abruptly stopped, leaving recyclables to pile up just as they would have if disposed of in landfills.
Now, focus in ITAD has shifted increasingly toward reuse, especially when it comes to businesses trying to find new life for their IT assets within their own organizations. They’re finding that the benefits don’t only extend to the environment.
Striving for the circular economy through ITAD also has a positive impact on your company’s bottom line. It’s estimated that improving your ITAD strategy to reduce waste doesn’t just benefit the planet but also can save your company as much as 30% in the first year and an additional 5% or more in following years. By finding new ways to extend the useful life of your IT equipment, you’ll be getting more value out of your IT assets— efficiency that will reflect in your financial strength. Not only will you reduce the costs of disposing of IT equipment, but you’ll also reduce the cost of purchasing new equipment when you can find new uses for what you already have.
What is ITAD?
IT asset disposition is the disposing of IT hardware and other equipment that is no longer needed, but it goes beyond simply throwing away old gear. Proper ITAD also ensures that materials are properly wiped and that all regulatory standards for proper data security are followed throughout the disposal process.
ITAD also deals with environmental and sustainability concerns, as old hardware can damage ecosystems and add to the total plastic and other waste on the planet without proper disposal or recycling.
That’s why businesses and organizations trust professional IT asset disposition service providers such as Transpere— to help ensure that all of their obsolete or unnecessary hardware is disposed of in a way that’s safe, secure, and sustainable.
Helping promote a circular economy through ITAD is one of the highest priorities we have at Transpere, and it’s our mission to help businesses everywhere do the same.
Circular Economy and ITAD
To understand how the circular economy and IT asset disposal go hand in hand, let’s look at an example. Consider a laptop computer used by your business at one of your facilities. That laptop has an invisible number attached to it— the energy it will consume over the course of its lifetime.
But that number doesn’t just account for the time the laptop spends in your office until it’s thrown away or recycled. It also includes the energy that goes into producing the laptop, and the energy used when it’s ultimately disposed of after it’s no longer in use.
In fact, did you know that roughly 70% of the energy an average laptop will be responsible for consuming in its lifetime occurs during the manufacturing process? That means that we should all be focusing on finding ways to extend the time that a laptop remains in use, rather than marking them as waste the moment they seem out of date or non-functional.
One of the ways this occurs is by focusing on reuse for electronics— even if that new use occurs outside of your organization. After all, a computer that no longers meets your needs could meet the needs of countless other organizations or individuals. Consider that many schools, learning institutions, and other important organizations in other parts of the world lack any computers at all. Even if your business requires the most up-to-date hardware, someone else may not have the same requirement.
Here we begin to see how IT asset disposition and the circular economy go hand in hand. You want to partner with a disposition company that thinks of ‘disposing’ of assets creatively, recognizing that it doesn’t just mean throwing things away when you no longer have a use for them.
Do Companies Have to Choose Between Sustainability or Profit?
The question of whether companies should be willing to sacrifice their bottom line for the sake of the environment has been ongoing for years and even decades. In fact, there’s even a name associated with the cost of making sustainable prices— the ‘green premium.’
To understand green premiums, think of electric vehicles. Today, most electric vehicles are more expensive than their gasoline-powered counterparts. If you’re considering a $15,000 gas-powered car or a $25,000 electric car, your up-front green premium for choosing the electric car will be $10,000. Over time that premium may go down as you account for gasoline costs, but it may also go up as you account for more expensive parts for electric cars, etc.
Now, back to IT assets. Some businesses mistakenly think that being more responsible about reusing and/or recycling their assets will come with a significant green premium. But the truth is that, when handled correctly, asset reuse can actually improve your bottom line by helping you be more efficient with your assets. Think of it this way— a laptop you’re able to use within your organization for 1 year longer than before instead of throwing it away means that you don’t have to purchase a new one. You’ll be able to reduce costs and be more efficient with your resources, and the company that’s able to do that is one that will experience lasting success.
Privacy — The Other ITAD Priority
Perhaps the most significant driver of investments in proper IT asset disposition before the focus on sustainability has been security. As piracy and data-based attacks have reached all time highs, companies have been searching for effective ways to fight back. Unfortunately, many don’t realize that many data breaches come after supposedly useless hardware has been thrown away or recycled. (That’s yet another reason to embrace reuse within your organization for IT assets whenever possible.)
One of the ways that some small or medium sized businesses miss out on data security is in their IT asset disposition process. Hard drives aren’t wiped, computers aren’t erased, and secure data ends up sitting somewhere in a warehouse where anyone can pick it up and use it for malicious purposes. Proper ITAD services will take care of this, reducing risk by fully wiping data from any disposed devices.
Expert ITAD companies such as Transpere are highly trained in the safe removal of data during the disposition process. There are several methods used in this process, and each has its own benefits. Sometimes multiple methods are used together in order to ensure full data security. Here are some of the most common methods.
At Transpere, we’re able to balance sustainability and security in such a way that our asset disposition process never compromises on either. We ensure that every IT asset, from the smallest hard drive to the largest industrial hardware, is reused, recycled, or disposed of in a way that’s both fully secure and meets the highest possible standards for sustainability and minimal environmental impact.
At Transpere, we’re trusted by thousands of companies, from small and medium-size businesses to over 80% of all Fortune 1000 companies in the U.S. alone. These companies trust us for our convenience, affordability, privacy assurances, and our commitment to sustainable practices that help businesses have a positive impact on the environment while also reducing waste within their organization and maximizing profitability. If you want to learn more, contact us today!
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