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Global firms concerned about e-waste arising from COVID-19

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COVID-19 has left many casualties in its wake, not all of them human. Electronic devices that were bought in an emergency to work-from-home are being laid to rest. E-waste arising from COVID-19 is the modern tech monster no one saw coming.

E-waste arising from COVID-19

A new report by Blancco Technology Group has revealed that 97% of large global enterprises had to purchase laptops and computer peripherals (75% of the firms bought brand new ones) for their employees who were moving to a home office setup during the pandemic. The report says that most of these purchases were deemed unnecessary later on, leaving them strapped for other expenses.
The silver lining in this mess is that 47% of these multinational corporations have designated roles to manage the e-waste problem resulting from COVID-19, which shows initiative for CSR and greater concern for the environment. However, 78% of those surveyed have concluded that COVID-19 led to unnecessary short-term tech investment, which will open them up to data security risks since it is now stored on cloud and a number of other devices.
Remote working has protected the health of the workforce but is also posing challenges to enterprises. Data sanitisation is becoming more important since the new devices bought during the lockdowns all over are being decommissioned. Organisations that don’t take appropriate steps for end-of-life device management will have to face penalties and incidences of data breach.
Some of the CSR measures are being lost in communication. Blancco Technology Group found in the survey that although 44% of the MNCs had an e-waste policy, most employees weren’t aware of it because the guidelines were not being communicated to them. Most of them are disposing e-waste arising from COVID-19 as they would other garbage items.
Lack of responsibility around implementation of e-waste policies is another problem for managing devices when they have reached end-of-life. The coronavirus pandemic has shown that e-waste policies need to incorporate best practices for end-of-life device and data management, else companies will have more problems at hand. 35% of organisations are physically destroying electronic equipment because they think it’s better for the environment (it is not). E-waste is not disposed in the same way that organic waste is.
Despite the strides in environmental CSR, e-waste disposal is grossly ignored in CSR policies. As the Blancco survey shows, taking ownership of best practices in this regard will be good for companies – since they won’t be vulnerable to data breach – and for the environment.