Keeping up with the latest tech is preventing businesses from achieving their sustainability goals

Pressure to improve and innovate business operations is harming the planet with enterprises discarding technology unnecessarily at an alarming rate.  More companies have placed an increased emphasis on corporate sustainability and working towards a greener future, following the agreements made at COP26 and the UK Government’s planned reformed Energy Bill.

With these agreements in mind, companies have been gradually implementing sustainable practices within their businesses, such as using more digital resources, recycling waste products and promoting smart digital working. But, as businesses are implementing greener business operations, are they undoing this good work by prematurely disposing of digital devices?

Phones, printers, monitors, tablets, laptops and scanners are constantly replaced, despite many enterprises having corporate sustainability goals in place. While device replacement is inevitable, nearly 7 in 10 IT leaders of international corporations believe businesses are unnecessarily and prematurely disposing of digital devices. Laptops and tablets are among the most common devices to be disposed of unnecessarily when they are in fine working order.

SOTI’s Reduce, Reuse, Rethink: From Discard Mentality to Tech Sustainability report found that despite 56% of IT leaders having clear targets for e-waste, and a further 53% of businesses working towards corporate social responsibility (CSR) key performance indicators (KPIs) around sustainable device management, unnecessary device disposal is at an all-time high. What is the reason for this and how can we reduce e-waste?

Staying Ahead of The Competition

SOTI’s research discovered 56% of IT leaders agree device management is an extremely important environmental issue, but not enough is being done to tackle the problem. With global landfills filling up, businesses discarding devices unnecessarily will only amplify the problem.

Technology has always been seen as a key driver in enhancing business operations. However, it has now become so entrenched within corporate culture that businesses are doing anything to stay ahead of the latest technology updates, even at the cost of the planet.

Many IT leaders acknowledge they regularly replace their devices when a newer model enters the market or the device warranty expires. Further exacerbating the negative impact of e-waste, some companies (62%) believe having the latest mobile technology hardware makes their organisation more attractive for employees.

Devices are not thrown away accidentally. Societal attitudes about personal technology encourage individuals to regularly replace their devices with the newest model or version on the market. For businesses, it should not be this simple. Both individuals and businesses should not dispose of mobile technologies to acquire a newer model, when the battery dies or because there is an expectation a battery will need replacing soon.

Premature Disposal Is Costing Businesses Thousands

Companies are also spending significant sums of money to stay on top of technological trends. The average cost of a new phone can range from £300 to more than £1,500. Replacing these devices every two to three years once the average warranty has run out is costing businesses an astronomical amount. For instance, if you have 100 employees and are replacing their mobile phones every three years with the latest models at £300 each, this can cost a business over £100,000 over a 10-year period.

Over 34% of companies are changing devices after employees request an upgrade. This needs to stop if the amount of commercial e-waste is to be reduced. Business innovation is paramount, but not at the cost of unnecessarily disposing of and replacing devices. Businesses are sacrificing sustainability targets and wasting money.

Working Towards a Greener Future

While some organisations have considerable financial resources dedicated to device replacement, very few corporate budgets are dedicated to extending the lifespan of devices. There are many cost-effective and sustainable ways to monitor and extend a device’s lifespan. The idea that replacing older devices with the most up-to-date devices attracts potential recruits or clients does not mean better business efficiency if the technology is not fully integrated with existing systems.

SOTI’s report shows 59% of companies have dedicated Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) strategies to maximise the potential of their devices, but companies are not reaping the benefits of these solutions. EMM strategies can monitor device lifespan, downtime and battery life. More than 90% of IT leaders said their organisation’s devices have replaceable batteries. With these strategies, IT leaders can monitor a device’s battery and replace it when necessary for significantly less than the cost of replacing the hardware.

EMM works to prevent unnecessary device replacement by implementing a diagnosis and repair strategy to highlight performance issues that may need addressing to avoid negligent disposal. EMM allows companies to meet their sustainability targets and helps support the world’s sustainability efforts. With supply chain issues still impacting global industries, obtaining devices has become a more difficult challenge in itself – so managing and repairing existing devices is essential for businesses globally.

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