E-waste management solutions for businesses

Find out how to manage and reduce the e-waste your business produces for a more sustainable future with WWF.


If you have any old electronics in storage because you’re not sure what to do with them, you're not alone. This is what’s known as ‘electronic waste’ or ‘e-waste.’ The ongoing challenge of how best to dispose of used and unwanted electronics isn’t a new one, however, the number of electronics being discarded today is growing considerably. We generate around 40 million tons of e-waste every year, worldwide. That’s like throwing away 800 laptops every second.
Businesses of all sizes produce e-waste, so businesses of all sizes need to be part of the solution. Irresponsible management of e-waste can have serious implications on both the environment and your bottom line. To manage e-waste correctly, you first need to know what it is and what options are available to your business to minimise the creation of e-waste.


What is E-Waste?

E-waste refers to any end-of-life or discarded electrical or electronic devices. Some examples of e-waste include:

  • Desktop Computers and Laptops

  • Smartphones

  • Televisions

  • Household appliances

  • Electronic tools

  • Hard Drives

These items and their accessories including headphones, chargers, USB leads, and HDMI cables contain non-biodegradable and hazardous materials, including heavy metals like lead, mercury and cadmium, as well as harmful chemicals. When improperly disposed of, e-waste can contaminate soil, water, and air, posing serious health risks to humans, animals and the environment.


How to Manage E-Waste

The production, use and disposal of electronic and electrical products contributes to the depletion of natural resources, climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution. However, addressing these impacts also presents an opportunity for businesses.  Responsibly managing e-waste can lead to cost savings as well as opportunities for repurposing valuable materials. Here are some recommendations:

  1. Get the most out of your electronics. Don’t replace them unless you have to. Repair them ahead of replacing them.

  2. Donate electronic devices that are in working condition to organisations or charities.

  3. Use manufacturer take-back programs that allow businesses to return their electronic devices to the manufacturer for proper disposal or refurbishment, recycling, or responsible disposal.

  4. Partner with certified e-waste recyclers who specialise in safely and responsibly handling electronic devices and ensure your electronics don’t end up in landfills. (Don’t forget to clear all your data first!) You can check with relevant government agencies to confirm companies near you that are registered to handle e-waste; for businesses in Europe, this website lists the relevant agency to check with, on a country-by-country basis.

  5. Establish a clear e-waste management policy that outlines the priorities when dealing with electronic and electrical devices within your business. how your company will handle and dispose of electronic devices responsibly.

  6. Educate your employees, customers and suppliers about the importance of e-waste management and provide training on how to deal with it responsibly.


The Impact of E-Waste

The impact of e-waste extends far beyond the simple act of disposal. When your electronics break or you upgrade to the latest smartphone, the old equipment and all its components need to go somewhere, and it’s not as simple as throwing it in a recycling bin.
The use of raw materials to produce electronic devices contributes to resource depletion and environmental damage and the impact to local communities continues when they’re disposed of. For example, it is common to burn the PVC coating off wires to recycle the copper inside; however, PVC releases toxic chemicals when burned. There is also a human impact. A huge amount of e-waste ends up being exported outside of the countries where the waste was produced. Improper management, for example burning e-waste, exposes people to harmful materials and chemicals.


The Benefits of Properly Managing E-Waste in your Business

If you’re looking for ways to make your business greener, managing your e-waste responsibly can have huge benefits for your business and the environment.

  • Minimise your environmental footprint by reducing pollution and conserving resources.

  • Reduce disposal and replacement costs.

  • Enhance your brand image and reputation. Customers are increasingly conscious of environmental issues and are more likely to support businesses that demonstrate a commitment to sustainability.

  • Meet sustainability requirements to protect your business from fines or legal issues.

By implementing effective e-waste management practices and taking responsibility, you are taking steps to minimise your impact on the environment and create a better future for people and the planet.
To get 1-2-1 advice about your business, book an appointment with one of our V-Hub Digital Advisers.
The Vodafone WWF partnership launched a one million phones for the planet programme to help accelerate and refine Vodafone’s circular economy strategy by increasing the number of traded-in, refurbished and recycled devices. Read more here.
WWF works with businesses of all sizes in many different ways. If you feel inspired to see how your business can join forces with WWF, reach out to them at business@wwf.org.uk

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