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Need to Know

International E-waste Day: European Businesses Raise the Alarm about Corporate E-waste

Getty Images E-waste recycling

Despite growing concerns from businesses around the mounting corporate e-waste they produce, and its impact on the environment, sustainability remains a low priority when looking to procure new IT. This is one of the key findings from research launched this International E-waste Day by Technology Lifecycle Management (TLM) provider 3stepIT.

The survey found that over three quarters of all European businesses agree that e-waste is a concern (77%), and a similar figure believe that the pressure from their employees to act more sustainably is mounting (74%). Yet despite this, sustainability doesn’t rank within the top three priorities when purchasing new enterprise technology, even though it needn’t impact business access to cutting edge IT.

Factors of importance when procuring new devices

  • Technical Specification: 62%
  • Cost: 52%
  • Employee experience: 43%
  • Sustainability: 42%

The news comes as global e-waste skyrockets, with 53.6 million metric tonnes generated worldwide in 2019 alone - the equivalent to throwing away 1,000 laptops every second. And the pandemic has only accelerated this issue, with the average employee now operating 2.4 devices (up 14% pre-pandemic), and many businesses left to handle the disposal of swathes of redundant tech.

And further to this only a third (37%) of businesses currently have a defined action plan to deal with e-waste, and only a quarter (28%) put responsible recycling as their main priority when disposing of old tech. 

Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance teams are also struggling to have their voices heard. 58% say they feel IT sustainability outcomes are often deprioritised to costs and other criteria, while 42% report they are not consulted in procurement decisions ‘most of the time’. 

To combat the issue of IT and business e-waste, 3stepIT is launching a new campaign calling on IT leaders to make a pledge to Stop Buying IT. The campaign aims to mobilise organisations to think more sustainably, and educate them on technology lifecycle management solutions,  a practice that enables them to procure and manage business tech without the need to purchase. This way, businesses can deploy IT as needed at lower overall cost - financial and environmental.

Speaking on the news, Carmen Ene, CEO of 3stepIT & BNP Paribas 3 Step IT said “Electronic waste represents a global sustainability crisis of severe proportions. Businesses need more IT than ever to ensure they are resilient and flexible, but we need to shift away from the cycle of ‘buy, use, buy, repeat’, towards a model that supports better outcomes for businesses and the environment. 

“Buying new IT doesn’t need to be a choice between accessing cutting edge technology and meeting sustainability goals. That’s why we’re launching our Stop Buying IT pledge, a call to arms for organisations to transition to more sustainable IT procurement solutions to help save our environment from the crippling effects of e-waste.

“Pledge to stop buying IT today and 3StepIT will plant a tree to help offset carbon emissions here: https://www.3stepit.com/pledge-to-stop-buying-it.”

Research methodology
3step IT surveyed 955 decision makers across IT, Finance & Procurement, and Sustainability roles in the UK, France, Germany, Sweden and Finland to understand current attitudes and approach to IT device acquisition, management and disposal; and highlight the untapped potential that TLM offers to businesses across EMEA.

Summary of key report stats 

  • 77% of businesses are concerned about the e-waste they produce
  • 74% report employees are showing increasing concern for the company's sustainability strategy
  • 52% still buy new IT outright
  • 37% currently have a defined action plan to deal with e-waste
  •  28% put responsible recycling as their main priority when disposing of old tech
  • There’s been a 14% increase in the number of devices the average employee operates
  • 58% of ESG teams say IT sustainability outcomes are often deprioritised to costs and other criteria
  •  42% report they are not consulted in procurement decisions ‘most of the time’
  • 71% of respondents reveal the IT department is under pressure to be more sustainable
  • 82% reveal it's hard to make the case for sustainability agenda/programmes
  • 32% reveal they always apply an sustainable procurement policy

About 3stepIT 
3stepIT is a Technology Lifecycle Management provider with an ambition to reduce e-waste and global emissions by helping businesses to consume technology more sustainably. 

3stepIT offers an end-to-end approach to acquiring, managing and refreshing IT devices that is cost-efficient, convenient and environmentally friendly. 

The company’s asset management platform provides IT and finance managers complete control and visibility of all IT devices to simplify budgeting, upkeep and renewal. AssetIQ® minimises IT security risks by providing real-time insights into device health, including information on anti-virus and protection software. A powerful reporting engine provides complete visibility of every asset by cost centre, product group and location. 

The company, which serves more than 3,000 businesses worldwide, plays an active role in the circular economy by refurbishing and reselling end of life IT devices. In doing so, it prevents over half a million devices from being destroyed and sent to landfill each year. 

Headquartered in Helsinki, Finland, 3stepIT employs more than 400 people across 8 countries and operates refurbishing centres in Finland, Sweden, Norway and Singapore. 

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