Companies that build proper circular processes should not rely solely on recyclers' certifications. Take proactive steps to strengthen your asset recycling processes rather than assuming recycling is being handled correctly.
With an estimated 53 million tons of business electronics generated globally, IT Asset Disposition (ITAD) and e-waste programs have traditionally relied on certification-based assumptions. Certifications signal to environmentally conscious clients that handling end-of-life electronics or e-waste is being done responsibly. However, there are bad actors in the industry, and they have certifications too.
The recycling supply chain's complexities, involving material aggregation and minimum load requirements, can lead to e-waste ending up in dumps instead of being recycled. While certifications like eStewards represent a high standard, companies genuinely invested in building circular processes should do more than rely on these certification programs.
Taking a Proactive Approach
Responsible companies should seek top certifications and conduct thorough due diligence on potential ITAD vendors through competitive RFPs and asking tough questions. Adopting a multi-vendor recycling strategy can help compare results and benchmark performance. Companies should also consider running a pilot project to understand the vendor's capabilities better.
Internal Vigilance and Transparency
Companies should apply the same level of rigor used to vet partners to their own processes and maintain transparency about their findings.
Supply chain transparency is becoming increasingly important, with platforms like Tellerex's SPOTLight revealing end-to-end, real-time asset data and insights. Embracing this level of transparency will allow companies to learn from each other, collaborate on circularity, and hold each other accountable.
Trust but Verify
While certifications and due diligence are crucial, companies should also engage neutral third-party entities to verify their findings. Many industry organizations can provide valuable insights into supply chain operations and suggest improvements.
Certifications should not be the ultimate goal; instead, they should serve as a promise that a company is continuously striving to meet strict standards.
As legislation evolves and the world demands more responsible businesses, companies must proactively contribute to a circular economy.