E-waste problems and solutions

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Examining the issues related to the improper disposal of e-waste and IT assets, and exploring effective solutions.

30 May 20227 mins
E-Waste Problems And Solutions

Australian and New Zealand legislation governs the disposal of electronic waste (e-waste) in efforts to reduce damage to the environment. Modern business practices require the use of a seemingly endless array of electronic equipment. With everything from computers to your old cell phone requiring unique end-of-life-cycle disposal, how can your organisation ensure compliance with regulations and the proper disposal of its e-waste?

This article will examine the IT asset disposal (ITAD) issues facing Australian and New Zealand businesses, and offer solutions to these pressing concerns.

The E-Waste Problem

The rate of e-waste generated by Australians has doubled in the past ten years, despite efforts by the government to curb the improper disposal of e-assets.

Since the onset of new regulations in July 2019, anything with a plug, battery or cord is designated e-waste and beholden to proper recycling and disposal methods.

New Zealand is estimated to produce 17.49 million tonnes of waste per year, of which e-waste constitutes the fastest growing toxic waste stream in the country. According to a report published by RNZ, the average New Zealander contributes more than 20 kilograms of electronic waste each year, one of the highest per-capita rates in the world.

The reason these materials are so harmful to the environment is due to the presence of mercury, cadmium or lead that can leach into soil and groundwater. Some materials are even released into the air, affecting both the environment and our health.

The toxic chemicals emitted from IT assets have contributed to the degradation of the environment over the past few decades, to the point that Australia adopted the Waigani Convention in 2001, banning the importation of all hazardous materials into South Pacific Forum Island Countries.

Recycling IT assets remains an important area of focus, as heavy metals and valuable materials such as gold, silver and copper can be extracted and repurposed. While there may only be trace amounts contained in each individual piece of old electronics, the cumulation of these elements in addition to other precious metals proves substantial when collected over time. For every one million mobile phones, 15-16 tonnes of copper, 340-350 kilograms of silver and almost 34 kilograms of gold may be extracted.

Considering the estimated 20 million-plus mobile phones discarded in Australia alone, the resources that could be salvaged by recycling in Oceania are substantial.

The Importance of Proper E-Waste Disposal

The historic Paris Agreement of 2016 set the standard for carbon footprint reduction by tasking each of the 193 participating countries – Australia and New Zealand included – to review the effectiveness of existing initiatives every five years.

  • 1.5℃
    Current climate plans would lead to a significant reduction of almost 14% in global greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, a necessary effort due to statistics showing the Earth is 1.1℃ warmer than it was in the late 1800s. To ensure global warming does not exceed 1.5℃, emissions need to be reduced by 45% by 2030.

The United Nations Net Zero Coalition endeavours to eliminate the world’s carbon emissions by 2050. To achieve this lofty goal, businesses must adhere to regulations regarding the proper ITAD protocols, and be on the lookout for further revisions and changes.

Why Your Business Needs E-Waste Disposal Solutions

In addition to the obvious and literal earth-saving benefits of proper asset disposition and disposal, today’s businesses rely on e-waste solutions to maintain adherence to frequently changing regulations.

The time and resources tasked to employees who may not be suitably trained or knowledgeable in the latest legislation could prove costly. Fines and penalties for improper ITAD and informal recycling are significant, with maximum penalties for corporations totaling $5,000,000 for wilful offences and $2,000,000 for negligent offences.

E-waste disposal services and outlets are able to reduce the workload, stress, and lack of productivity associated with delegating non-experienced workers to dispose of old IT assets that could contain toxic substances.

In addition to savings in employee productivity and resources, many companies are unaware of the reimbursement potential involved with remarketing old electronic equipment. End of purpose may not necessarily mean end-of-life-cycle for hardware that seems to have run its course for your business, and significant capital could be put back into your organisation by finding a new owner for used electronic devices.

The decommissioning of end-user assets remains another important consideration for business operators. There’s more to the retirement of an asset than simply unplugging it and finding a recycling centre. Disposal records and end-of-service preparations often follow a series of protocols to ensure their removal is handled efficiently and following legislation. Is your organisation properly staffed to handle the decommissioning of data centre servers and storage devices?

In Australia, there are plenty of collection avenues available for organisations seeking to effectively dispose of expired electronic assets. However, many businesses prefer to save time and money by outsourcing efficient service providers.

Iron Mountain E-Waste Disposal Services

Iron Mountain offers fully customisable ITAD solutions for your business. With our ISO-certified e-waste recycling, disposal and IT disposition services available to alleviate the worry associated with e-asset removal, you can get back to focusing on the elements of your business that drive revenue.

Iron Mountain solutions are secure, cost-effective and fully adherent to government sustainability regulations.

Want to ensure your redundant IT asset data is protected? Iron Mountain uses certified data erasure or degassing methods to guarantee your valuable information is unobtainable after the devices that once stored it leave your premises. Our data security services reposition any needed files to your current or upcoming devices and make sure you retain line-of-site and ease of access to all relevant data, files or information.

When it comes to working with an IT asset disposition vendor to retire your IT assets, here are some important factors to keep in mind:

  • Ensure you obtain a fair market value to your unneeded IT assets.
  • Guarantee data privacy by providing complete erasure of data on devices and removing any other identifying information prior to remarketing.
  • Cover shutdown/power down, de-installation, removal, processing and resetting to factory defaults.
  • Securely destroy or recycle any hardware that has no market value.
  • Use the same security and chain-of-custody measures it uses during destruction and e-waste recycling.
  • Guarantee competitive re-market pricing for any IT assets that could find new life.

Iron Mountain protects your company information throughout the entirety of the disposal or recycling process. Our services boast a 99.4% No Landfill Rating and are fully customisable to accommodate the specific needs of your organisation.

Our service offerings include:

  • E-waste recycling service
  • Continued waste stream management
  • IT asset remarketing for old device inventory
  • Hard drive, media and tape destruction
  • Enterprise IT asset disposition programs
  • Printer and computer disposal and recycling
  • Raw material removal and disposal
  • Remarketing of old equipment or valuable metal

Iron Mountain. Compliance without compromise. To trust us with waste management and IT asset disposition needs, contact us today.