Despite growing concerns from businesses around the mounting corporate e-waste they produce, and its impact on the environment, sustainability remains a low priority when looking to procure new IT. This is one of the key findings from research launched this International E-waste Day by technology lifecycle management provider 3stepIT.

The survey found that over three-quarters of all European businesses agree that e-waste is a concern (77%), and a similar number of respondents believe that the pressure from their employees to act more sustainably is mounting (74%). Yet despite this, sustainability doesn’t rank within the top three priorities when purchasing new enterprise technology, even though it needn’t impact business access to cutting edge IT.

Factors of importance when procuring new devices

  • Technical Specification: 62%
  • Cost: 52%
  • Employee experience: 43%
  • Sustainability: 42%

The news comes as global e-waste skyrockets, with 53.6 million metric tonnes generated worldwide in 2019 alone – the equivalent of throwing away 1,000 laptops every second. And the pandemic has only accelerated this issue, with the average employee now operating 2.4 devices (up 14% pre-pandemic), and many businesses left to handle the disposal of swathes of redundant tech.

And further to this only a third (37%) of businesses currently have a defined action plan to deal with e-waste, and only a quarter (28%) put responsible recycling as their main priority when disposing of old tech. 

Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance teams are also struggling to have their voices heard. 58% say they feel IT sustainability outcomes are often deprioritised to costs and other criteria, while 42% report they are not consulted in procurement decisions ‘most of the time’. 

To combat the issue of IT and business e-waste, 3stepIT is launching a new campaign calling on IT leaders to pledge to stop buying IT. 

The campaign aims to mobilise organisations to think more sustainably, and educate them on technology lifecycle management solutions, a practice that enables them to procure and manage business tech without the need to purchase. This way, businesses can deploy IT as needed at lower overall cost – financial and environmental.

Carmen Ene, CEO of 3stepIT & BNP Paribas 3 Step IT, said “Electronic waste represents a global sustainability crisis of severe proportions. Businesses need more IT than ever to ensure they are resilient and flexible, but we need to shift away from the cycle of ‘buy, use, buy, repeat’, towards a model that supports better outcomes for businesses and the environment. 

“Buying new IT doesn’t need to be a choice between accessing cutting edge technology and meeting sustainability goals. That’s why we’re launching our Stop Buying IT pledge, a call to arms for organisations to transition to more sustainable IT procurement solutions to help save our environment from the crippling effects of e-waste.

“Pledge to stop buying IT today and 3StepIT will plant a tree to help offset carbon emissions here: https://www.3stepit.com/pledge-to-stop-buying-it.”

3stepIT appoints circular technology director