Effective Management of Decommissioned IT assetsCorporate Social Responsibility or Corporate Responsibility?

April 2016

By Jeby Cherian Chairman and Co-Founder, Blubirch – A leader in Reverse Supply Chain

"Think about it...if we throw it away, we had to buy it first. So we pay twice, once to get it, once to have it taken away. What if we reverse that cycle? What if our suppliers send us less, and everything they send us has value as a recycled product? No waste, and we get paid instead." - Lee Scott, Chief Executive, Wal-Mart (October 2005)

There has been a lot of focus on corporate social responsibility, with even the government now getting into the act mandating CSR spend. This seems to imply that outside of the mandatory spending on CSR, Corporates can afford to be socially irresponsible. Such behavior has led to significant challenges with exploitation of natural resources and communities. We need to change the paradigm from Corporate Social Responsibility, to Corporate Responsibility and thus bring the significant competencies that exists within the Corporation to solve the challenges we face as communities - rain water harvesting, waste management, and the like.

One immediate area that Corporates can bring an immediate, significant and noticeable impact is in the management of IT assets. Most IT assets from servers to phones, have a depreciable life of three to four years but an economic and functional life that far extends it. Most of these assets end up in bonded warehouses, gathering dust until they are given off to an e-waste handler for final disposal. What a waste! Especially when you consider that the manufacturing of each of these assets takes up almost eight times the energy as its full functional life. In not extending the life of these assets, Corporates are negatively contributing to an existing and growing problem of e-waste management and pollution. There is another way to handle to this!

"The linear 'Take - Make - Dispose' system, which depletes natural resources and generates waste, is deeply flawed and can be productively replaced by a restorative model in which waste does not exist as such but is only food for the next cycle" - Ellen MacArthur (Round-the-world yachtswoman)

Blubirch analysis shows that 80% of the assets that have been fully depreciated can be reconditioned to extend its life and put back to reuse. These refurbished assets, can be redeployed back in the organization, distributed to education institutions, given to charitable organizations or even sold back to people who otherwise could not afford one. Imagine the productivity and the nation building energy that come out of it - a rural school where children can now access the power of the internet, a company benefiting from affordable technology, a charitable institution that can now run more efficiently and stretch its contributions to cover more people or services, increased employee loyalty through employee purchase programs, decrease IT investment and costs and most importantly a greener and sustainable earth that seems to growing warmer and warmer every year!!

Managing decommissioned IT assets effectively to ensure reuse is no longer a "nice to do" and a "Social" responsibility but a Corporate Responsibility.

Put the decommissioned assets back in the hands of a user instead of in the landfill