Part Three in a series of webinars was held this week by Blancco titled, "Drive Destruction & Sustainability: The Hidden Value of Eco-Focused Tech Disposal." In which a panel of industry professionals discussed the impact of tech equipment disposal has on our environment and the different ways companies can achieve a more circular program by finding ways to repurpose or reuse its older tech.
The webinar’s speakers included: Fredrick Forslund, Director, International Data Sanitization Consortium & VP International, Blancco; Adam Moloney, CFO & Net Zero Champion, Blancco; Monica Kuroki, CMT Sustainability Industry Lead, UKI, Accenture; Andrew Bax, Senion Manager, Climate & Sustainability (ESG Advisory), Deloitte LLP.
Primarily, the discussion revolved around businesses taking necessary steps to minimize their carbon footprint and avoid destroying tech equipment when it was done.
After introductions, Moloney began to speak about the prevalent issue that companies and individuals face when it comes to data erasure, which is largely the security of that data. Traditionally, a key solution for companies facing data security for end-of-life computers, drives, and other systems is to shred them into tiny pieces to protect that data. However, this method has a negative environmental impact. Instead, companies should look to utilize data erasure to sanitize devices completely so they can be reused, repurposed, resold, etc.
Moloney goes on to say that hundreds of millions of computers are being replaced and, in turn, likely disposed of each year and data from the UN shows that over 50 million tons of e-waste is generated globally each year, with half of that waste coming from computer equipment. This equipment then hits landfills where the destroyed devices can leak harmful chemicals. This also means that these computers aren’t being reused, forcing new computers to be produced constantly, raising the need for critical materials from newly mined minerals, increasing the carbon impact of the next generation.
To combat these negative effects, data erasure can save those devices from hitting landfills, and introduce the newly wiped computers back into the economy for further use. Not just at the businesses performing data erasure protocols, but for other communities who don’t have these types of devices readily available. For example, Blancco has sent computers to Kenya once they have been cleared of sensitive data.
Later, Kuroki spoke about how businesses are looking at these decisions and what factors are coming in to play when deciding to use these data solutions. One key factor is Environmental Social and Governance (ESG) Reporting. Companies are being reviewed and scored on sustainability and the businesses that are scoring higher have been shown to have better financial outcomes, more engaged workplaces, and are able to attract better talent. Therefore businesses are seeing more positive output within an ESG framework.
Also, important to these businesses are the ongoing crises the economy is facing, such as the housing crisis, the energy crisis, and more. Consumers are spending less so businesses need to find a way to spend less money as they make less. So, by utilizing data erasure programs, companies can then reuse devices to save on equipment costs or sell old equipment for a new revenue stream.
Bax continued and reiterated that there are a lot of financial benefits for businesses using data erasure and maintaining a more circular outlook when it comes to their devices. He would go on to mention that there are a lot of social benefits as well, saying that 6% of households in the UK are without internet and globally only 43% of some locations have internet. If we can keep some of these devices longer or reuse them in these spaces, we can get more internet to more people, rather than just shredding devices.
Learning from the webinar, there are major positives to utilizing data erasure programs. Businesses can benefit immediately by reusing equipment to support employees and working towards a more sustainable culture internally and externally promoting a positive EGS score and social standing. Meanwhile, when companies decide to not shred devices, everyone else wins. Fewer chemicals make it into our environment, less mining needs to be done for critical materials, and citizens could have cheaper access to devices.
Data erasure is just one of the ways businesses can achieve higher sustainability and promote a more circular economy, and these steps can help clear a path toward a zero-waste environment.