There is a lot of jargon surrounding the business of IT recycling and IT asset disposition**, and it can be helpful to break down these terms to know what you’re getting into when you start considering options for IT disposal. Last week, we talked about the chain of command when dealing with unwanted IT equipment that often contains sensitive data. Today, we’re going to talk about reverse logistics—a term that describes the overall process of IT disposition and why it matters for your company.
What is Reverse Logistics?: The Jargon-Free Definition
Imagine you’re trying to get a product into the hands of a consumer. That process involves a lot of logistics that start at a very basic level—from acquiring the materials, to manufacturing, packaging, shipping, and more.
Reverse logistics is the opposite of the supply chain process—taking at least one step back from getting the product into the hands of customers by reselling it, or taking it all the way back to the beginning and breaking down unwanted products to be used again in future manufacturing. Here are some of the steps that can be involved in reverse logistics:
• De-installation and removal of equipment
Why is Reverse Logistics Important?
Globally, we recognized years ago that we have only a finite amount of resources and a small planet on which to store excess waste. We can’t keep moving forward with the supply chain unless we have a way to reverse that process and break down items that are no longer useful. The rate of technology moves at breakneck speed, and consumers are all too eager to keep upgrading their equipment—and companies are too.
Recognizing the environmental impact of simply throwing away unwanted equipment, laws have come into play prohibiting electronics from getting tossed into the landfill. These laws impose stiff fines for companies that don’t responsibly recycle their equipment. But why did these laws come into effect?
• Electronics thrown into landfills contain harmful components that can affect the soil, water, air, and public health
• Unwanted IT equipment is often exported to developing countries and dismantled in unsafe ways
• Useful and re-usable components are thrown away, clogging landfills and wasting precious resources
Because of this, companies specializing in reverse logistics are helping to responsibly resell, reuse, and recycle outdated or broken equipment for the good of our planet and community health and well-being.
Are Companies Resistant?
Many companies don’t want to bother with reverse logistics—it’s seen as an unnecessary expense. But just like paying for trash pickup, reverse logistics is a cost of doing business. What many companies don’t understand is that it can be much more expensive to ignore regulations than to hire a company to dispose of unwanted IT equipment. Why? Fines for non-compliance with federal and state laws can easily reach thousands of dollars, not to mention cleanup costs on top of that. For newer equipment, companies could be wasting money in resale value by trashing the items.
Aside from being a necessary expense, reverse logistics can actually benefit your company in a number of ways. Here are a few reasons responsible recycling of IT equipment is a good investment for companies:
1. It helps make a company more attractive to consumers
No matter what business you’re in, consumers respond positively to businesses that care about environmental and public safety issues.
2. It removes the possibility for scandal
Fines and cleanup fees don’t make your company look very trustworthy, and you don’t want to risk your equipment ending up in a landfill in India without your knowledge.
3. It fosters community engagement
For companies that engage the community in recycling efforts, positive awareness is generated, improving the company’s presence and position in the business community.
4. It gives you peace of mind
If you are in any sort of business that involves keeping client data secure, than responsible recycling goes from a strong recommendation to a requirement. Data breaches are serious business, and you don’t want to risk being the victim of one—and allowing your clients to become victims.
Finding a Trustworthy Company to Provide Reverse Logistics
As discussed in our blog last week, finding a trustworthy IT recycler is vital to your success in reverse logistics. You should make sure that any company you consider working with provides:
• Peace of mind through taking liability for sensitive data and destroying it according to federal guidelines
A good place to start is by looking for a company that is certified by R2 or eStewards, which assures a high level of compliance with regulations. Additionally, if your company is getting ready to recycle old electronics equipment, stay tuned for next week’s post about putting it all together and making sure your company is on track for successful IT disposition.
Have questions or want to share you experience with reverse logistics? Comment below or get in touch with ICT!
** Not sure what IT Asset Disposition (ITAD) Is? Click the link!
At ICT we work with your company to come up with the solutions you need, depending on the age, functionality, and condition of your equipment, as well as the data requirements involved. Want to learn more? Fill out our Sell/Scrap forms, request a trial pick-up, or email us about your project to get started.
Susannah Bruck is a freelance blogger, editor, and ghostwriter. She has been putting her skills to use for clients since 2010, and enjoys working on formats ranging from blog posts to short stories and plays. You can find her at World Adventures