Buy, use, throw away – today’s consumer behavior wastes huge amounts of resources and damages the environment. This is particularly true for IT equipment, where devices are replaced that are still working fine but are no longer state-of the-art.
Scrapping them makes neither financial nor environmental sense. That is why the circular economy also focuses on extending the useful life of products, for example by refurbishing them and using them more than once, and on reducing and recycling waste. CHG-MERIDIAN’s business model is the perfect example of how this works in practice.
The e-waste mountain is growing rapidly – by around 50 million tons globally every year. And experts forecast that this will increase to 120 million tons a year by 2050. Smartphones are the most popular mobile devices, and a record 52.5 million new phones were sold in Europe in the third quarter of 2019 alone. One of the reasons behind this figure is that smartphones are only used for three years on average before they are replaced. In this respect, smartphones are representative of the general trend in IT equipment. Whether it’s laptops, PCs, or printers, not only is the overall number of devices rising but also the number per user. At the same time, these devices are being replaced with newer models at ever-shorter intervals as companies try to keep pace with technological developments in the digital age.
Earth Overshoot Day arrives earlier every year. This is the day on which humanity has consumed all the natural resources that the Earth can regenerate and make sustainably available within the space of one year. In 2019, Earth’s resources had already been used up by July 29. The manufacture of IT equipment consumes a relatively large amount of raw materials, some of which are rare. At first glance, it is not obvious what these devices contain, for example the gold in the circuit boards of laptops. Systematic recycling undoubtedly has a positive impact on the environment by returning valuable raw materials to the material cycle. But refurbishing and reusing a device, prior to it's recycling, has a greater beneficial effect.
The service portfolio around the ‘Digital Workplace’ allows CHG-MERIDIAN’s customers to use the latest technology without having to own it. At the end of the lease term, the used devices are optically and technically refurbished in the company’s technology centers in Gross-Gerau, Germany, and Skien, Norway, as well as by certified partners. Refurbishing is based on the principle of turning old into new. This way, 95 percent of all assets returned to CHG-MERIDIAN are given a second life, in line with the principles of the circular economy. In 2019, CHG-MERIDIAN remarketed 697,000 used devices to companies and other customers on the secondary market. Each device that is remarketed contributes to greater sustainability by saving the energy, raw materials, and greenhouse gas emissions otherwise used or generated in the manufacture of a new device.
To minimize the environmental footprint of electronic goods, they should be used for at least as long as their theoretical lifetime. This requires a shift in thinking: outdated or defective devices are not ‘waste’, they are a valuable resource that can be refurbished, repaired, and reused several times. This way of thinking is not new to CHG-MERIDIAN – it is firmly established in the company’s DNA. CHG-MERIDIAN has been managing its customers’ technology investments for more than 40 years, and now covers the entire lifecycle from procurement and use to data erasure, refurbishing, and remarketing. The business model shows that the circular economy is much more than just an idea; it is a financially and environmentally sensible way to do business which has proven itself in the field.
Smartphones and laptops, but also PCs, servers and printers, store large amounts of data, which is why professional data erasure in accordance with statutory requirements is essential for remarketing. To ensure that data protection and remarketing are not in conflict, CHG-MERIDIAN sets a high benchmark with its eraSURE® product. This ISO-certified data erasure solution can be adapted to the type of device, to the data scenario, and to the companies’ individual security requirements. This guarantees that data does not fall into the hands of unauthorized parties.
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Group Sustainability Officer (GSO)