How can technology drive environmental sustainability for the channel?

To mark Earth Day, David Nelson, sales director trade-in services – EMEA, Tech Data, shares his thoughts on how the channel can make a difference

For over 50 years, Earth Day (22 April) has been celebrated worldwide to “diversify, educate and activate the environmental movement”. This year, the theme was focused on “investing in our planet”. Through this, the aim is to encourage businesses, governments and citizens to act on climate change and ensure a sustainable future.

Businesses have already had a hand in working towards a sustainable future, with the global green technology and sustainability market being forecast to reach $74.64bn by 2030. This is coupled with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 21.9% from 2021 to 2030.

Even though these leaps have already been made, there is still a practical opportunity for businesses to unite and contribute and create positive environmental change. The looming question is: what can businesses in the technology channel do?

The significance of e-waste

Electronic waste continues to be a pressing challenge globally. Recent predictions show that there will be about 67 million tonnes of e-waste by 2030. Since 2014, the amount grew by 21% to 48.6 million tonnes in 2019.

Globally, less than one-fifth is properly collected and recycled. Indeed, in more developed regions, such as Europe, with more efficient processes in place, e-waste is still shipped to other countries and is dumped.

Challenges facing channel partners

The technology channel has a crucial role when helping customers who want to invest in the planet but are unsure how to navigate the challenges. Channel partners must respond to customer needs, as well as providing value in terms of products and services, which provides an opportunity to add in environmental services. These should be focused on furthering sustainability.

Recycling mobile handsets, tablets, laptops and other endpoint devices is a good starting point to tackle e-waste. There is a desire among channel partners and their customers to get involved in this process, because of the cost-saving benefits and the prospect of reducing their carbon footprint.

However, the regulatory steps to avoid undocumented dumping of e-waste have been off-putting. Despite the complexities that come with the requirement to wipe devices of information, this must be done in order to make them suitable for re-use and re-sale.

What can the channel do to help customers?

It is possible to overcome the obstacles stopping businesses from reducing and eventually removing e-waste from devices that are illegally dumped. Channel partners can help their customers by supporting when trading in their old or end-of-life endpoint devices and, in turn, minimising their carbon footprint.

Schemes such as Tech Data Renew work with channel partners and their consumers who would like to give their unwanted, old or end-of-life devices a second lease of life. This could be in the form of the device being recycled, refurbished or reused.

To streamline the whole trade in process and ensure there are no stumbling blocks from the start to the end, all is taken care of, no matter if it is one device or an entire fleet. Using these schemes, the abovementioned issues with regulatory compliance and data erasure are overcome. Devices are collected and cleaned, data is wiped and certifications are shared with customers. From there, each unit is graded, with the majority classed as grade C. The device is either placed in a box and resold or put onto a pallet to sell.

Beneficially, services like this and others in the channel are contributing to a reduction in the amount of e-waste that is dumped in Europe or overseas. As such, Tech Data predicts that by the end of 2022, at least a million devices will have been recycled using these schemes.

Sustainability continues to be an ongoing priority for the channel, not only for Earth Day. Even though businesses have already taken strides to improve environmental sustainability, more can still be done.

Understandably, many businesses may have been reluctant to go through the device recycling process due to regulatory issues and concerns. Nevertheless, the schemes available in the channel can help partners and their customers take the complexity away from the device recycling process, making it much simpler and streamlined.

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