According to the Population Reference Bureau, there are nearly 40 million metric tons of electronic or e-waste produced each year worldwide. This comes primarily in the form of televisions, computers, and other mobile devices.
The Human and Environmental Impact of e-Waste
The National Institutes of Health reports that improperly recycling certain components of electronic waste can lead to a host of health and environmental problems because of the toxic materials used to make these items such as:
- Polyvinyl Chloride
In the U.S. there are strict laws about how to properly dispose of e-waste. Unfortunately, most e-waste ends up leaving the country to parts of Vietnam and India where laws are not as protective of the environment and the people living in and around the recycling centers. Toxins destroy the landscape in these places and enter the water supply through groundwater runoff. Some items e-waste is burned releasing those same toxins into the air.
Business Concerns Regarding E-Waste
One thing many businesses do not consider is the wealth of information walking out of the office on the average smart phone every day. Considering that, nearly 416,000 cell phones are disposed of each day, 40 percent of which, per USA Today, have owners who have not taken any measures to secure the information on those phones before simply disposing of them, and businesses have even bigger potential security risks and leaks on their hands.
What Does this Mean for Your Business?
Aside from the environmental impact and the risk for reprimands and fines for improperly disposing of electronic waste, your business could face problems of an unexpected nature if you don’t take measures now requiring employees to properly dispose of mobile devices, laptop computers, and other electronics with company information, client information, etc. on them.
Now is the time to act on behalf of your business. There are a few things you can do that will help mitigate
your risks and exposure while making more responsible choices for your business and the planet, like taking the following steps.
Recycle business e-waste through reputable electronic recyclers and offer to do the same for employees’ devices that are used to conduct business (mobile phones, computers, laptops, tablets, etc.)
Establish policies requiring employees to properly secure information on and recycle any equipment that has company information.
Educate employees about the risks of failing to properly secure information and remove it from mobile devices before trading in, upgrading, or passing along their used devices to children or other family members.
Never underestimate the importance of a good business insurance plan that includes cyber liability insurance to help you deal with surprises that come along and impact your business, such as e-waste and much more.