Unlock the potential of your redundant IT

Founder and CEO of ADISA, Steve Mellings, welcomes the 'green shoots of improvement' around asset retirement/asset recovery, but laments the lack of wholesale change

I've been writing about end-of-life equipment for over 10 years now. Sadly, and without wishing to sound like a broken record, the narrative hasn't really moved on. Domestically, many of us still hoard old technology, justifying it by claims that a 'spare' is useful or that 'I'll donate it when I get the chance'. Business typically doesn't fare much better with the approach, varying from a risk avoidance perspective, leading to the destruction of perfectly serviceable devices, to those businesses that simply give their equipment away to the highest bidder or most available no-cost collection.

Before lamenting on the lack of change, we must first acknowledge that there are some signs that indicate a maturing of the approach to asset retirement/asset recovery. During COVID, ADISA helped a major insurance company change from a destruction strategy to a reuse model. This enabled them to donate hundreds of laptops to disadvantaged families. We also saw a major police force work through their security policies and still manage to donate thousands of devices to those in need.

These successes are not isolated, but are still far from the norm, as the truth is that, for most companies, despite being acutely aware that the linear nature of asset ownership must be changed, they simply don't have the focus on this business process to do more about it. So, why are these green shoots of improvement not wholesale change?

The question of how to make wide-scale improvements to a business process is not a simple one to answer. Education and motivation are one way; but, where the process straddles different disciplines, it can be hard to make that stick. Mandating behaviour is one way of trying to effect change and it's been interesting working with government departments over the past few years on an initiative called 'Commodity Usage Principles and Assurance'.

This is a meta-scheme designed to provide buyers of goods and services with an assurance jump-off point to start their own procurement process. This engenders behaviour from a point of confidence, which can help overcome concern about making the wrong decision. Providing guidance via certification is the approach we at ADISA have adopted with our UK GDPR Certification Scheme for ICT Asset Recovery (Industry), being followed in 2023 with the release of our Asset Retirement Standard.

Like most solutions, there is no silver bullet, so perhaps a mix of all of these is what is required:

Education -by showing that redundant equipment has so much more to offer than merely being a waste product and by extending the product lifecycle, linear consumption can become circular - or at the very least be given a chance to.

Motivation - by showing the bottom-line benefit that much of this infrastructure still has and by showing the good that donated equipment can do.

Assurance - can give decision makers a wider remit to think outside of the current status quo and consider different ways.

Certification gives a roadmap of how to manage risk and compliance, and achieve your sustainable objectives.

Redundant equipment will almost certainly remain an afterthought until it is brought into the centre of attention and given the consideration it deserves. Don't assume your redundant equipment is worthless - it has lots of potential, if only you can realise it.