Understanding ESG and Sustainability in ITAD

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ESG efforts

In the realm of IT Asset Disposition (ITAD), comprehending ESG and sustainability is increasingly crucial for companies. The approach that companies take to tackle broader societal issues such as the environment has evolved over time, with terms such as the 3Ps (people, planet, and profit), corporate citizenship, and corporate social responsibility being used. However, companies have previously reported their efforts and strategies differently, resulting in inconsistencies. To ensure consistency in how companies tackle and disclose their societal contributions, a new standard has been established. This standard entails addressing the following areas:

  • Environmental: This refers to the management of a company’s environmental impact.
  • Social: This encompasses how a company manages its relationships with its employees, customers, and communities where it operates.
  • Governance: This encompasses how a company leads its organization, safeguards shareholder rights, compensates its executives, and more.

Why are ESG and Sustainability important now?

ESG and sustainability have become increasingly important because of a variety of factors. One of the primary drivers is the demand from investors to screen the companies they invest in based on environmental, social, and governance criteria. ESG provides a way for investors to compare companies more directly and encourage companies to act in responsible ways.

In addition to investor pressure, companies are also facing social pressure to address pressing societal issues such as climate change, health and safety, diversity, and more. This pressure comes from social groups, including their own employees, who are demanding more action from companies.

Regulatory bodies are also increasing their oversight of ESG reporting. For example, the Security and Exchange Commission has proposed amendments that promote a “consistent, comparable, and reliable” standard for how companies report their ESG efforts. In addition, state legislation such as the Climate Corporate Accountability Act passed by the California Senate requires large companies to disclose all of their greenhouse gas emissions, including those from their supply chain.

How do ESG and sustainability relate to ITAD? And what do I need to know?

IT asset disposition (ITAD) vendors play a critical role in supporting a company’s environmental, social, and governance (ESG) initiatives, given that they manage the impact of IT assets on a regular basis.

Environmental – From an environmental standpoint, ITAD is founded on the principle of a circular economy – increasing the lifespan of IT equipment and repurposing it to minimize electronic waste. In cases where equipment cannot be reused, ITAD vendors collect components for recycling, reintegrating materials into the circular economy as manufacturing inputs to prevent mining new materials.

These waste-reduction endeavors have tangible advantages for businesses since ITAD vendors can evaluate the environmental impact of:

  • Diverting equipment from landfills and the e-waste cycle
  • Minimizing exposure to hazardous substances
  • Avoiding mining and production
  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions

As an example, if you need to decommission a data center with 10,000 IT assets, OceanTech can guarantee compliance with rigorous environmental regulations that decrease your environmental impact. Furthermore, since we offer hardware disposal records (e.g., Audit Reports and Certificates of Recycling), you can showcase the measurable results of your responsible disposition procedure and compare that to your ESG objectives.

Social – When you partner with an ITAD vendor to prolong the lifespan of your IT assets, you also make a social impact in several ways. Two of the most prevalent ways are:

  • Equipment Donation – Partnering with an ITAD vendor allows you to donate equipment that is no longer in use. This enables individuals who lack access to technology (or have outdated equipment) to bridge the digital divide. Imagine how your used IT assets can assist individuals in your local community or even around the world in obtaining an education, receiving essential training, or even launching a business. A five-year-old laptop may be ancient to many of us, but to others, it could be the key to unlocking access to technology. That is social impact.
  • Donation of Proceeds – You can also partner with an ITAD vendor to redirect the profits earned from used equipment to a non-profit organization. (This approach may be preferred to equipment donations since non-profits often require a specific type of equipment). Once again, you’re taking equipment that is no longer in use and employing it to make a social impact.

Governance – ITAD partners promote governance by assisting businesses in managing their data responsibly. For example, when disposing of IT assets, you want an audit trail that details how every piece of equipment was handled, which data-erasure technique was used, and what happened to the equipment’s components. At OceanTech, we provide audit reports down to the serial number, allowing you to demonstrate compliance with regulations governing sensitive data protection.

On the governance front, taking responsibility for what happens in your supply chain is critical. You want to demonstrate that you are disposing of your IT assets in an ethical manner and that you are not working with vendors who use child or forced labor downstream.

OceanTech is R2 certified ITAD, which means that we have demonstrated our governance practices and verified our downstream partners’ practices. We know that they are doing the right thing during each step of the process. By partnering with vendors at our certification level, you can confirm that you are supporting your ESG claims.

Summary

In summary, IT asset disposition (ITAD) vendors play a crucial role in supporting a company’s ESG (environmental, social, and governance) efforts by managing the impact of IT assets on a daily basis. From an environmental perspective, ITAD is based on the concept of a circular economy, extending the life of IT equipment, and reusing equipment to avoid unnecessary e-waste. ITAD vendors can calculate the environmental impact of their waste-avoidance activities, including saving equipment from landfills and e-waste streams, keeping toxins out of the environment, avoiding mining and manufacturing, and preventing greenhouse gases.