Building sustainability into the device lifecycle:
The growing impact of sustainability on the technology supply chain

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The topic of sustainability has surfaced once again, with terms like “sustainable sourcing” now the subject of research from analyst firms like Gartner.

As Gartner® research explains, “This concept of sustainable sourcing evolving integrates social, ethical, governance, economic, humanitarian and environment aspects into the process of selecting suppliers – also called social sourcing.”1

Mainstream discussions of sustainability have become about more than simply being kind to the environment. In fact, the importance of sustainability now permeates each stage of the supply chain, influencing partnering decisions and affecting choices about what to buy and who to buy from. In fact, according to a March 2021 Deloitte Survey, 1 in 3 consumers claimed to have stopped purchasing certain brands or products because of sustainability-related concerns, and 85% of consumers reported they were more likely to buy from a company with a reputation for sustainability.

E-waste is now a global problem

According to the Global E-Waste Monitor 2020, a record 53.6 million metric tons of e-waste from discarded products with a battery or plug (such as computers and mobile phones) was generated worldwide in 2019, which is up 21% from five years ago. And of that, only 17.4% of e-waste was officially documented as formally collected and recycled.

What is SHI hearing from customers?

With much of the e-waste coming from across the technology supply chain, we wanted to check in with SHI’s experts to find out what they are hearing from customers around the topic of sustainability and responsible IT asset disposal.

According to Adam Kaye, SHI’s Sr. Program Manager, Asset Recovery Services:

“Customers are seeking out technology vendors that are proactively taking measures to reduce their products’ carbon impact and who have a documented commitment to sustainability practices. Over and over, we’re being asked how we can help them reuse or redeploy their old equipment. Customers are looking to either reuse their devices or want documentation that their equipment isn’t going into a landfill. Even more are looking for ways to redeploy their equipment elsewhere.”

And with the great end-user device shortage predicted to continue through 2022 and even into 2023, the pressure is on to help customers extend the useful life of their devices in preparation for long lead times and price hikes on new devices.

Gartner has also reported that:

The importance of sustainability among sourcing, procurement, and vendor management leaders’ priorities has nearly doubled in a year.2

I reached out to Bill Wyckoff, SHI’s Vice President of Hardware and Advanced Solutions, and asked him to weigh in on the eye-opening “nearly doubled in a year” Gartner finding to see if this was in line with what he’s been hearing from SHI customers when looking to procure hardware from SHI.

According to Bill:

“Sustainability has definitely been coming up as a topic more and more in the last year or so. While not every OEM partner is showing the same level of sustainability commitment most, if not all, of our OEM partners are communicating an increased focus on sustainability and involving SHI (as a critical part of the technology supply chain) to sign on to these initiatives. I foresee this becoming a core focus in the years to come as customers’ demand for sustainability commitments become an intrinsic part of their IT sourcing and procurement processes.”

How SHI helps you build sustainability into the device lifecycle

SHI has a wide range of device lifecycle management services designed to build sustainability into the lifecycle of end-user devices, from point of purchase to end-of-life. With access to one of the largest vendor portfolios in the industry to source products from, SHI offers customers the ability to choose the OEMs whose products best align with their business’ needs and corporate sustainability goals.

Inherent in all our device lifecycle management services are solutions that help prolong the useful life of your devices, whether by extending the refresh cycle or by facilitating redeployment once they’ve reached end of life.

As an example, SHI offers extended warranty options as part of our support & maintenance services. We help ensure your end-user devices can go the distance.

IT asset acquisition with responsible IT asset disposal in mind

There’s no doubt that customers are more acutely aware of the environmental implications of their purchasing decisions and are looking to their technology reseller and partners to build a plan to reuse, recycle, or redeploy their end-user devices into their purchase contracts.

Because SHI’s financing department is finding more and more customers thinking about IT asset disposal when considering a leasing or financing solution, SHI’s fair market leases can now be structured to include SHI’s sustainable IT asset recovery and disposal services. These services include certified data destruction and collection of single items from remote or home workers or bulk devices using pre-paid boxes. With SHI, you get flexible financing and leasing models that allow you to preserve cash while funding innovation and meeting corporate sustainability goals.

SHI is also seeing customer requirements for sustainable asset disposal come through as requirements in customer RFPs.

According to Dinet Luchies, SHI’s International EMEA Commercial Director:

“Having reviewed over 950 RFPs in the past 48 months, 9 out of 10 customers procuring hardware are looking for a complete IT lifecycle solution that incorporates IT asset disposal (ITAD) of some form. The vast majority of these requests see customers looking to retain some form of residual value from their equipment at the end of its lifecycle. This is in the form of refurbishing and resale or as a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) donation. It is extremely rare to see a customer requirement for procurement only without any sustainability requirements.”

Compliant, sustainable asset recovery services for your end-of-life technology

By offering a buy-back program that gives cash credit for your devices, SHI’s asset recovery and disposal services solve the problem of what to do with end-of-life (EOL) products. With SHI, you get a serialized audit report with over 20 fields of data, accompanied by a certificate of data destruction, as well as complete chain of custody reporting. And because SHI has a “no landfill policy” for both end-of-life and “dead on arrival” (DOA) units, all SHI asset disposal partners are either R2 or e-Steward certified, providing customers with assurances that their EOL and DOA devices will not find their way into a landfill. Customers can then choose to either donate all or a portion of that check as a CSR donation, or have it applied as an SHI credit.

Looking beyond the here and now

Making the connection between what’s important to your organization’s sustainability goals and then integrating that into your IT and sourcing strategies will require new sourcing policies, standards, and market intelligence to better align with your wider business and sustainability goals.

For now, from acquisition to retirement, SHI’s device lifecycle management services can help you achieve maximum value from your most critical and costly IT assets, while ensuring your end-of-life technology is disposed of in a manner that is compliant with applicable contracts, legal obligations, and current environmental standards.

If you’re looking to build sustainability into your device lifecycle management processes, contact us today or reach out to your SHI Account Executive to learn more.


1 Gartner,“Three First Steps for Incorporating Sustainability in Your IT Sourcing Initiatives”, September 2021, DD Mishra, Vikas Bhardwaj, Jaswant Kalay

2  “Three First Steps for Incorporating Sustainability in Your IT Sourcing Initiatives,” September, 2021: DD Mishra, Vikas Bhardwaj, Jaswant Kalay.

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