How the circular economy can reduce your costs – and your impact on the environment

Have you ever wandered around your office, or reorganised an equipment cupboard, only to be astonished by the old keyboards? Or have you wondered why your colleague is still using a work phone that has a keypad? Across the UK, thousands of organisations suffer from tech clutter, as well as outdated tech still being used. And the fact is, it’s a waste of money. By holding onto technology for too long, organisations are effectively tying up cash, then letting that cash evaporate, sometimes to almost zero. Although a new £500 mobile phone or £30 keyboard may seem like a small cost to larger organisations at the individual level, multiply that cost by maybe 2,000+ employees and the numbers become something to think about. It’s also a big drain on our sustainability strategies too, especially when we inevitably get tired of looking at piles of old keyboards or drawers full of broken phones, and they don’t end up getting recycled as they should. Humans generate something like 50 million tons of e-waste each year, and commercial enterprises and organisations are often the biggest offenders. Then there’s the wasted electricity from charging and running outdated tech. Even if you intend to optimise the life cycle of tech to deliver a sustainable IT policy, uncertainties like Covid-19 and the War in Ukraine can result in budget reductions, with technology refreshes getting pushed down the priority list. This means we’re stuck with ageing tech that reduces organisational efficiency, which has a knock-on effect on team and individual performance, as well as being potentially a serious security issue.

The costs associated with ageing technology

After the initial outlay, there are associated costs for technology that many organisations may not even be aware of. After the obvious extras, like replacement batteries, repairs or hardware upgrades, there’s the additional time and effort needed from the IT department to make it all happen. If ageing devices are constantly having to be maintained, then the IT department’s budget – and time available – sees an impact. There are also the implications of asking workers to perform using potentially out-of-date technology, legacy systems, or software/hardware that has seen better days. With many still working from home, outdated laptops and other IT equipment can make everyday working life more difficult for teams. If a worker’s laptop takes twice as long to process a task, or crashes when running the latest applications, then they’ll either get less done, or end up losing out on valuable personal time. Then there’s the sustainability question we’ve already touched on. Older devices are usually much less power-efficient than new ones, contributing to higher electricity bills, and of course the challenges that come with recycling old technology that hasn’t been designed in line with modern sustainable manufacturing processes. The environmental impact alone is a hidden cost that drags resources away from real opportunities to reduce carbon usage and waste. Instead of looking at ways to improve efficiency, resource and supply chains, managers are bogged down with figuring out how to dispose of old tech correctly.

Using vs. owning

If buying new technology becomes a money pit, then just using it could be the solution. But what do we mean by ‘using’ over ‘owning?’ Technology is a prime example of the circular economy in action. Our devices, especially newer ones, are designed to be easily recycled. The raw materials, including precious metals like gold, can be extracted and put back into the manufacturing process, creating a cycle. For organisations, being part of this cycle can mean lower costs associated with tech. But recycling is not the answer. By prolonging the lifetime of the device in a manageable and planned way unlocks the circular economy. Although, to ensure a refresh strategy is adhered to, discipline is required. Without a control mechanism in place, external influences such as economic factors and political pressure will put a strain on your budget holders, resulting in a delay to your refresh aspirations and ultimately affecting the ability for your assets to enter the circular economy. You may even already be part of the tech circular economy with your personal devices. Your phone is most likely under contract, when this expires you get a new phone under an updated contract. Your old phone can then be traded in for money towards a new device, or sold on to recuperate some of the cost of the new contract. The same may apply to your car, or even your music collection. With services like Spotify, you ‘use’ the digital music, rather than requiring hard storage for digital downloads, or having to use CDs or vinyl. This is the exact same concept that organisations are missing out on, by failing to plan replacement and resale/recycling at the right time, and therefore stopping the cycle.

Find out how much your organisation could save financially and environmentally with our DVaaS Cost Calculator

According to technology research firm Gartner, up to 50% of CIOs will have metrics and KPIs tied to sustainability goals. Dealing with old tech properly is a very easy way to contribute to scores, targets or agreed goals. Just by recycling or trading up at the right time, or even better, using DVaas (Device as a Service), tech can become a zero-waste-to-landfill business element of any internal sustainability strategy. DVaaS is the hardware progression like other ‘As a service’ models you’ll have heard of. It’s the same concept as your mobile phone contract – you have the latest tech for a set period of time, before you can hand it back to the provider in exchange for the latest upgrade. You never own the device, but you can use it for the entire agreed period as if you did, at a lower cost than buying outright. The obvious benefit with DVaaS is getting the best tech available for your teams into their hands, but it’s also a fantastic way to get ageing tech out of your organisation. And it’s not just a nice-to-have or a sustainability tickbox exercise: Gartner has also assessed that almost three quarters of leaders within the supply chain foresee the application of circular economy principles being a major opportunity to increase profits before 2025.

How can SCC help?

By handing your device requirements, management, servicing, replacement and recycling over to SCC, you can not just remove your device headaches, but achieve the associated cost and sustainability management goals covered earlier. With flexible plans for all sizes of organisation, department or even unit you can tick off some waste management and IT budget reduction targets. You’ll even see an increase in productivity by giving your workforce access to the latest technologies, operating systems, software and more. If you’ve recently invested in new tech, then you can even add that to your SCC DVaaS agreement thanks to a feature called Value Release. Your new tech can be ‘bought back’, so you’ll recuperate costs sooner and still be able to use the products, with SCC managing future tech upgrades. The beauty of partnering with SCC for a DVaaS implementation is that your tech will re-enter the cycle at the right time, and you won’t need to think about it. Your teams will have the latest kit without you having to do any research, and it’ll be handed back at the right time – no more old phones or laptops going to waste in a cupboard. But perhaps the most important benefit is the ability to instantly align your tech and IT strategies/budgets with a practice specifically designed to provide tech on a zero-waste-to-landfill basis. You can even add that directly to your sustainability charter! Speak to us today or learn more about how SCC could help you to reduce your impact on the environment and to help you meet your organisational ESG targets.

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