These days, sustainability is a major buzzword in the tech community, and the business community at large. Sustainability programs are growing in importance, and many businesses, if they have not already, plan to put one in place in the near future. An important concept, for those seeking to transform their business practices towards more sustainable ones, is that of the circular economy. If you’ve never heard the phrase, you’re not the only one. What exactly does this mean, and what are the benefits of engaging in it? Walker Pickens and I recently published a research brief outlining the concept in more depth. Let’s take a look at some of the findings.
A new way of doing things
The circular economy, in short, is a reimagining of traditional industrial practices to prioritize the maximization of resources and the minimization of pollution and waste. This requires efforts to keep non-renewable resources continuously cycling through product loops, at their maximum utility. Additionally, it requires the safe return of biodegradable materials back to the environment. On an increasingly crowded, polluted planet, it’s fairly easy to understand the environmental imperative behind such a transformation. But what many don’t realize is that this transformation actually presents real business and savings opportunities for the businesses who successfully execute it.
Don’t just throw that old printer in the landfill
IT departments, in particular, stand to gain from adopting more circular practices. Pretty much every business in the modern era can count some sort of IT assets in their inventory, whether it we’re talking about desktop PCs, printers, scanners or what have you. Adopting more sustainable strategies surrounding the procurement, maintenance, and end-of-use management of these IT assets is one way every business can engage the circular economy and recognize savings. The adoption of circular practices in this realm can enable businesses to maximize their assets, keep equipment in use longer, and unlock value that can be reinvested in new technologies.
In the realm of procurement, companies should actively seek out efficient, hardy IT equipment that is designed expressly for circularity—easy to take apart, repair and recycle. Additionally, adopting technology “as-a-Service” solutions can make businesses more agile and help reduce overprovisioning. The deployment of certified, refurbished equipment can also be cost-effective alternative to new technology, depending on the scenario, and can help reduce e-waste and optimize returns on investment. Of course, businesses should also seek to optimize their IT infrastructure as to reduce energy consumption and waste.
The upcycling of old technology assets also holds a lot of potential—once it is no longer functioning or useful, obsolete equipment can be taken off businesses’ hands by an IT Assets Disposal (ITAD) provider, who then turns it around to give it a second lease on life. With the right, trusted ITAD provider, the market value of these assets is returned to the business so that it can invest in new technology.
Not a cakewalk
These potential avenues for engaging the circular economy do not come without their share of pitfalls and challenges for IT departments to navigate. Departments must contend with company-wide policies regarding the length of use IT equipment, certain policies governing the usage of refurbished equipment, data security concerns, bad faith ITAD providers, and more. The process can seem a bit daunting, but a successful transformation pays off in ways that make it worth businesses’ while. Furthermore, there are third-party resources, such as Hewlett Packard Enterprises, whose Financial Services and IT Asset Lifecycle Solutions portfolio of products and services has the potential to assist businesses in their journey towards a more circular operating model.
This research brief, mentioned earlier, outlines the concept of the circular economy in more depth, and explores how IT departments, in particular, can recognize real business savings by safely engaging in circular practices. Furthermore, it lays out recommended best practices for engaging in the circular economy, the challenges faced, and more information on how a trusted vendor like HPE, who commissioned this research, with its Financial Services and IT Asset Lifecycle Solutions, can aid enterprises in this transformation. If any executive was told there was a way their company could operate more sustainably and save money, it’s hard to imagine them turning it down. When it all comes down to it, that’s the basic promise of the circular economy. I believe it’s worth reading up on.