Repurposing Vs. Recycling: Tackling the E-Waste Crisis
This is part one of a three-part series detailing the benefits of CircleIT’s prioritization of repurposing over recycling electronic devices.
At CircleIT’s core is the drive to use business as a force for good. In our industry, that means working to eliminate e-waste by fostering a circular economy for electronic devices. An economy where old, slow and broken electronic devices are not thrown away but repurposed for use by people and organizations in need. It is a vision manifested in CircleIT’s business model, sustainability goals, and relationship with clients and is one that creates beneficial customer, environmental and social outcomes.
CircleIT’s call to action is grounded in the fact that by 2030, annual electronic waste will reach 74 million Metric Tons (MMT), an increase from 53.6 MMT in 2019. Fueled by higher consumption rates, short life cycles and few options for repair, this makes e-waste the world’s fastest-growing domestic waste stream. And in the U.S., despite only accounting for 2% of the waste stream, e-waste is responsible for 70% of hazardous waste and growing.
Although recycling is more advantageous than dumping, a device can only be recycled so many times before it becomes e-waste and it still increases consumer demand for new electronic devices. And if demand for new devices remains high, the environmental and social consequences of e-waste will become more pronounced and more challenging to reverse.
To counter the crisis and slow the “tsunami” of e-waste, the devices earmarked for a closet or trash can need to be earmarked for reuse. And to accomplish this on the scale necessary, all Information Technology Asset Disposition (ITAD) providers must focus on repurposing as opposed to recycling devices.
Unfortunately, the historical default of the ITAD industry is to recycle a device if repairing and reusing it isn’t as profitable. This thinking is short-term and prevents the deployment of a more sustainable and profitable revenue stream that unlocks a new category of value for clients—Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG). Through CircleIT’s certified ESG program, corporations can claim the positive environmental and social benefits created by CircleIT on their own sustainability reports. Not only will this help corporations achieve their environmental targets, but they will also become more attractive to investors and customers.
As CircleIT expands its client base to small and medium businesses and everyday consumers, it will help tackle a growing amount of e-waste. But to sufficiently mitigate the e-waste crisis all ITAD providers must join the fight to create a circular economy.