E-waste and Environmental Responsibility

Should large companies be held legally responsible for the proper disposal of their e-waste? Apple, Dell, and Microsoft employ hundreds of thousands of people globally who rely on devices like smartphones, laptops, and iPads as well as system equipment operated by IT departments. What are these companies doing with their e-waste? Are they the primary reason our planet is being polluted with millions of tons of e-waste every year?

Although many larger businesses are actively seeking methods that dispose of e-waste in an environmentally-friendly manner, some are simply refusing to utilize ecycling providers like Potomac eCycle. These big companies are either irresponsible, unwilling to include ecycling in their budgets, or refuse to acknowledge the long-term ramifications of inappropriate e-waste disposal.

According to a survey examining recycling practices of nearly 2000 businesses operating in the U.S., Germany, U.K., Japan, Canada, and elsewhere, 80 percent adhere to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policies. However, a nominal 25 percent of corporate e-waste is being recycled by these same companies.

Another remarkable statistic emerging from the same survey indicated that one-quarter of the businesses had no standard e-waste disposal method. In other words, electronic equipment discarded by one out of every 25 businesses surveyed was simply thrown out with all other trash or destroyed instead of being recycled.

What is Corporate Social Responsibility and Why Haven’t All Companies Adopted CSR Policies?

A basic definition of CSR involves corporations proactively behaving responsible to shareholders and to society by focusing more on human worth than profits. For example, Corporate Social Responsibility principles but are not limited to: supporting philanthropic initiatives; preventing pollution; and, recycling e-waste.

Although about half of all U.S. states have enacted laws about how companies should discard e-waste, too many states leave it up to the company to decide what to do with e-waste. Unfortunately, some businesses choose profit over CSR. Instead of ecycling, they either throw their electronic equipment into landfills or sell their e-waste to dubious third parties in less developed countries.

With decades of research proving the detrimental health and environmental effects of decomposing waste, it is time for state and federal governments to enact stricter regulations about how large companies dispose of their e-waste. While consumers should also do their part by taking unwanted computers, cellphones, and laptops to ecycling centers, manufacturers must step up and take the dominant role in reducing e-waste.

They can do this by:

  • Officially adopting CSR policies
  • Providing consumers with more options for keeping older devices working effectively
  • Offering returns or buy-backs to consumers for out-of-date devices that may be repurposed
  • Upgrading and reusing components recovered from buy-backs
  • Taking all unused e-waste from consumer buyback programs and unwanted company equipment to a certified ecycle facility

Large companies have the financial and upper management resources to properly dispose of e-waste at the end of its lifecycle. Sometimes, a company may balk at taking responsibility for global human and environmental health, but they should keep in mind the high price we are currently paying for maintaining a viable future for the planet and everything that lives on it.

Potomac eCycle offers comprehensive, environmentally-friendly solutions to all your electronic waste needs.

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