In our August newsletter, we discussed The ABCs of ESG: How environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues will continue to impact companies as investors and consumers increasingly demand transparency around these topics.
In this issue, we’ll take a deep dive into how a well-organized ITAD and e-waste recycling program can help you deliver tangible results on ESG issues.
Executive Summary: These are the 3 things every executive should know about ESG and E-Waste:
- E-waste is one of the biggest ESG issues facing today’s corporations.
- Selecting an e-waste partner can make or break your ESG program.
- Achieving ESG stewardship can be difficult – but it is worth it for your reputation and bottom line.
The Environmental Impact of E-Waste
Around 100 billion pounds of e-waste is generated each year. Unfortunately, much of it is disposed of in an environmentally harmful way. This includes incineration, landfilling, and export to developing countries with fewer regulations on proper processing.
Improper e-waste disposal can result in the release of dozens of types of pollutants that affect the environment. These include heavy metals such as lead, cadmium and arsenic, as well as chemical compounds such as polyvinyl chlorides (PVCs), brominated flame retardants (BFRs), and dioxins. These substances are known to cause serious health problems in humans and animals, including birth defects, cancer, and nervous system conditions.
Toxins from e-waste can enter the environment in a number of ways. For example, rain that passes through an unlined landfill can leach chemicals into the groundwater. Incinerating or pulverizing e-waste without the proper precautions releases pollutants into the atmosphere, where they can be inhaled or deposited into the environment through rain and snow.
It’s no surprise, then, that proper e-waste disposal is a major pillar of many ESG initiatives. But before you jump into cleaning up your company’s e-waste problem, there are a few factors to consider.
The Do’s and Don’ts of E-Waste & ESG
If you are ready to make e-waste a priority in your ESG program, you will need a trusted partner – one that can do more than just cart away your old electronics. When you’re selecting an e-waste processor, consider these do’s and don’ts:
- Don’t use just any recycling vendor.
Responsibly recycling e-waste is much different than just hauling away garbage and recyclables. Many firms that offer “e-waste recycling” simply transfer this material to another company for processing. As we saw in the Morgan Stanley data breach case, the actions of downstream vendors will reflect on your company. So choose a partner that offers complete control over the recycling process, from pickup to disposition. This will give you peace-of-mind knowing that your e-waste won’t end up in an overseas landfill – and on the 6 o’clock news.
- Do check certifications and licenses.
Several organizations in the US offer e-waste recycling certifications, including R2 – Responsible Recycling. Additionally, states and municipalities usually require permits, inspections, or licenses for vendors processing e-waste. Confirm that the vendor you’re considering is independently certified to a standard that fits in with your ESG program, and that they’re in compliance with all laws and regulations where they operate.
- Don’t forget about your data.
Your company’s e-waste will include computers, servers, hard drives, phones, tablets – all devices that may contain gigabytes of confidential, sensitive or legally protected information. Be sure that the data on these devices will be destroyed properly. An e-waste processor that specializes in ITAD and data destruction can help you make sure that any e-waste is properly scrubbed of data – and that this is documented.
- Do keep careful records – and be prepared to share them.
ESG is all about transparency. Expect to share information about how your e-waste is handled in annual reports, investment circulars, and even regulatory filings. Keeping good records of all e-waste disposed of by your company will make it much easier to prepare these reports and maintain transparency. Your e-waste vendor can simplify things further by providing you with these records as part of their services.
The Benefits of ESG
ESG is more than just the next corporate buzzword. These issues are top-of-mind for consumers, investors and even employees.
Over half of consumers said that they consider their environmental impact when making purchasing decisions. Companies that have successfully implemented sustainability programs have outperformed others in annual returns. And 9 out of 10 employees in one survey said that they would trade a percentage of earnings for greater meaning and impact at work.
Clearly, organizations that want to remain competitive must consider their environmental impact. CyberCrunch can help you to do that with our full-service e-waste recycling, ITAD and data destruction services. Our customizable programs can help your company do its part to help the environment while addressing the pressing business requirements of ESG.