Monday, 23 March 2015

Sustainability is NOT ‘a bit Gay’

In my limited experience, 15 year old boys are not into lengthy debates. In a straw poll of one that sort of thing was deemed a bit gay. However, they can also be perceptive and commendably pithy when they put their minds to it. An example of that would be his views on what we do here in eReco land. We have discussed it upon occasion. Which means I have wittered on about it a few times and every now and then he seems to have been listening. Maybe his Xbox was lagging at the time and he focussed in on something I said?

He said that we talked far more about the data security than we did about the recycling. And I realised that it was true, we really do. The recycling side of things is largely taken for granted, or in fact ignored as there is a general assumption that we will sell everything on for a large profit and make our fortunes on it all...because where there’s muck there’s brass.

Yes, we remarket if we can – because it is best practise. Extending lifecycles stops someone building another one, or so the theory goes. But there is quite a lot that we cannot remarket for one reason or another. And that is where the recycling takes over of course. We break it down and pile it up until we have enough to sell, to reputable people who turn our piles into something else. There is no crock of gold, not even at the end of the rainbow. We store this stuff, sometimes for a very long time, until we have enough to sell on, but it always goes to a new home.

Which, as my lad said, is important. Being born of the recycling generation, where stepping over the plastic bins and boxes to get to the fridge is part of everyday life, he knows what sustainability is and he cares. Not quite as much as he cares about FIFA15 or his dear French teacher’s unreasonable homework demands, but he still cares. Whether it is blazer’s made out of plastic bottles or polar bears having some ice left to frolic on, this new generation get ‘it’.

The problem is we don’t. Not yet, at any rate. In fact, we have a double problem, because people are often not too bothered about the data side either. That is going to change as the fines rise to 3% of global turnover and directors are made personally accountable for data breaches, but do we really have to wait for the next generation before we start to care about making our business dealings sustainable?

This blogs best week in terms of readership was when I did a series of posts about scammers pretending to be like eReco and sending thousands of tonnes of WEEE to Africa. Read back if you are interested. But you can stop it. Overnight. Yes you. 

As long as we start to take our responsibilities seriously.

How? It’s easy really.

First, when budgeting for new equipment, include something for the disposal and data cleansing of the old. It does not need to be much, maybe 10% on the bottom line cost, but it will give your staff a bit of wriggle room to do things properly. Because almost every business these days says it wants to do nice things for the environment, and this is actually an easy one. And whilst you are at it, you may as well make sure you don’t get fined by the Information Commissioner at the same time.

Secondly, choose your partner carefully. You need a professional to help you, but get a good one who knows what they are doing and can prove it. Ask questions. Challenge what they say they will do and why. It will not take long. It is not rocket science.

Thirdly, be responsible. Your first priority is managing the many risks associated with your data security. Then you can support sustainability. And finally you can either try to get some money back on your old kit to offset your costs or you can do even more good and donate to charity.