Enterprises, both big and small have accelerated their digitalisation efforts through the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, and this has led to the surge in electronic waste in Singapore. This is part of a global problem with e-waste predicted to grow to a colossal 74 million metric tons by 2030 and in Singapore alone, we dispose of e-waste that is equivalent to 200 Airbus A380 superjumbos in a massive hangar a year.
E-waste is a clear and present challenge that Singapore must tackle with urgency, or our goal of sustainable economic growth over the next decade will come under threat.
Although the Singapore government has announced the implementation of a new e-waste disposal system during Budget 2021, we face the prospect of thousands of desktops and other computer peripherals becoming obsolete as hybrid work arrangements become the norm. A distributed workforce pushed enterprises to purchase newer IT equipment, causing unnecessary short-term investments in technology and data management concerns. Unsurprisingly, technology innovations are also driving demand for newer devices resulting in an accelerated rate of obsoletion of older devices.
With heaps of outmoded electronic devices, there is, unfortunately, only one thing for enterprises to do: dispose. However, the challenge of how to dispose of e-waste sustainably, ethically, and securely is a key challenge many SMEs in Singapore face.
A more holistic approach is needed for the disposal of e-waste in a secure and cost-effective manner, and this is centred on sustainable e-waste management. A key area that sustainable e-waste management looks at is the assessment of the IT inventory of an enterprise to determine the cost and benefits of technology upgrade and disposal. The main objective is to maximise the value of enterprise IT purchase, while reducing unnecessary spending.
The uptick in the deployment of device-as-a-service is an encouraging start for enterprises looking to establish sustainable e-waste management as it allows customers to use their resources optimally and tailored to their needs, further extending a device’s lifecycle. More enterprises should steer away from the existing ‘take, make and dispose’ model and adopt a more conscious approach by championing their proper e-waste initiatives and programmes.
Enterprises need to utilise a multi-pronged approach to fully capitalise on the true value of sustainable e-waste management as it not only helps to protect our planet but significantly reduces the unauthorised data access and security risks, ensuring that their most valuable data assets remain uncompromised.