What Environmental Risk Management Means for Your Business
As the health of our planet becomes more critical, more consumers are demanding that the companies they do business with adopt environmental, social, and governance (ESG) strategies. Among these, sustainability appears to be their primary concern, with consumers overwhelmingly preferring companies that focus on managing their environmental risk.
Environmental risk management plans assist businesses in creating effective ways to help protect the environment and public health. While creating a plan such as this may seem daunting and difficult, it needn’t be, as long as you are aware of which materials in your business may pose a hazard and your business takes steps to mitigate or remove the risk and hazards where possible.
The Impact of Hazardous Materials
Some of our most useful—and ubiquitous—pieces of equipment can pose a serious risk to human health and the environment. For example, a simple printer cartridge can take up to 1,000 years to break down in a landfill—and more than 375 million of them are thrown away every year. Other items that contribute to e-waste (electronic waste) include laptops, desktops, copiers, and other typical office equipment.
E-waste leads to highly toxic chemicals such as cadmium, dioxin, DDT, PCB, vinyl chloride, arsenic, and more ending up in landfills, which in turn pollutes soil and seeps into water tables. These chemicals can cause serious damage to public health as well as to the environment, and governments are taking an increasing interest in reducing the release of hazardous materials into the environment.
Simple Ways to Reduce Environmental Risk
Many business owners or C-suite personnel are not aware that the equipment they use in day-to-day operations can pose a serious hazard to the environment. Being aware of the equipment you have and ensuring that it is disposed of properly during decommissioning is critical for reducing your environmental risk. As mentioned, focusing on reducing environmental risk is an important element of a robust ESG strategy—one that will help elevate your business in the eyes of consumers and business partners and reduce your exposure to fines and lawsuits. Here’s what you need to know:
Avoid Equipment with Contaminants Where Possible
It is important to avoid the purchase of equipment that includes contaminants where you can. In some cases, as with printer cartridges, purchasing a different type—such as high-quality remanufactured cartridges—can make a big, positive impact on your sustainability goals. However, in other cases it may be more difficult. Businesses require the use laptops, desktops, copiers, phones, and other IT assets for uninterrupted business continuity. In these cases where you must use assets that contain hazardous materials, it is essential that you have a plan to dispose of them in a sustainable manner.
Dispose of IT Assets Properly
Sustainable asset disposal is a critical element of a strong environmental risk management plan. IT asset disposal includes not only protecting sensitive or confidential information but also ensuring that your e-waste producing equipment is handled in the most environmentally friendly manner. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has created a guideline that promotes sustainable approaches to handling each stage of the electronics lifecycle. By ensuring that all resources are recovered from electronic assets at end-of-life and unusable parts are recycled appropriately, your company can contribute to a more sustainable environment.
Avoiding ESG Fines
Besides elevating your competitive profile through a targeted sustainability effort, an environmental risk management plan helps your business avoid hefty fines that can accompany the incorrect disposition of e-waste. Recently, Target’s parent corporation was fined $7.4 million for the illegal dumping of hazardous equipment that should have been recycled. In order to ensure your company is not hit with similar fines, you must have extensive auditing and reporting procedures in place that track the disposition of all of your IT assets.
ARCOA Makes Environmental Risk Management Easier
Properly managing your IT assets can be a difficult task if you do not have a dedicated IT asset disposal (ITAD) team. And as regulations and laws change, it becomes increasingly difficult to manage your retired assets. That is why partnering with a third party that has targeted expertise in ITAD can be a crucial factor in the ongoing management of your business’s environmental risk.
At ARCOA, our team has deep knowledge of IT asset disposal, as well as understanding of the evolving rules and regulations that govern the correct reuse and recycling of these assets. We combine this with stringent and detailed auditing and reporting strategies to provide our clients with point-by-point proof of asset reuse, recycle, and/or destruction to help them avoid costly ESG fines. In addition, we make every effort to recover as many resources as possible and properly recycle the rest to bring the greatest environmental benefits and sustainability to the table. To learn more about how our services can help your business mitigate environmental risk, visit the ARCOA website.
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