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International E-Waste Day: Are our IT Purchasing Practices Sustainable?

Graham Turner

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International E-waste Day
European businesses raise the alarm about corporate e-waste, but sustainability still fails to rank as a priority when purchasing new IT.

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 in a survey of 955 ‘decision makers’ across IT, Finance & Procurement, and Sustainability roles in the UK, France, Germany, Sweden and Finland.

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.

In fact, the order of importance when procuring new devices was as follows: technical specification: 62%, cost: 52%, employee experience: 43%, then sustainability last at 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.

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.

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’.


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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.”


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Graham Turner

Sub Editor

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