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Invest in Our Planet

For more than 50 years, billions of people around the globe have celebrated Earth Day every April 22nd. When Earth Day was first introduced in 1970 there were no legal or regulatory mechanisms to protect our environment. Today there are more but there is still work to do.

This year’s theme, ‘Invest in Our Planet’, reminds us that businesses, governments, and each of us individually are equally responsible for protecting our increasingly fragile planet and adopting more sustainable practices.

ITSM professionals are in a unique position to contribute to a green, prosperous, and equitable future.

A great first step is to look at how we can minimize and manage e-waste. According to the United Nations E-Waste Monitor report, it is estimated that 53.6 million metric tons of e-waste are produced every year worldwide. Only about 17 percent of this waste is properly collected, documented, and recycled. Much of the remaining 83 percent of e-waste sits idle in homes and businesses or is disposed of improperly.

In our current economy, we take materials from the Earth, make products from them, and eventually
throw them away as waste – the process is linear. In the case of e-waste, this is particularly
disheartening as we are throwing away precious materials that could be extracted and resold, along with toxic materials that can damage the environment. A more sustainable approach is to support a circular economy, where we avoid producing waste in the first place. And when waste is produced, we dispose of it in a way that doesn’t harm the planet. Or better still, the nutrients from biodegradable materials are returned to the Earth to regenerate nature

Ways to minimize and manage e-waste include revisiting technology procurement policies and considering the entire end-to-end supply chain. Do you know where your technology is being manufactured, by whom, and how? With care, we can all ensure that we are acquiring products that have been manufactured in decent working conditions in a sustainable way. This includes being aware of the labor practices where your equipment is being manufactured and supporting manufacturers that are committed to using fewer natural resources, reducing waste and moderating emissions, recycling and reusing materials, and using recycled and recyclable packaging.

Another way to revisit procurement policies is to look at the frequency with which technology is refreshed or replaced. Technology is advancing so rapidly these days that it is understandable people want to reap the benefits of the latest and greatest. But does everyone need the latest and greatest? And what happens to the technology we cast aside? Are we replacing technology because it is no longer useful, or because it has reached the end of its life?

Artificial Intelligence is providing the capability to better predict when technology is likely to fail and
so traditional refresh programs (e.g., replace everything every X years whether it needs it or not) can now be cast aside rather than the technology itself. Also, it is getting easier to repair equipment rather than replace it. In 2021, President Joe Biden signed an executive order that included a ‘right to repair’ clause. In response, technology companies such as Apple, Google, Samsung, and Microsoft have begun offering repair services and introducing self-repair programs.

When technology reaches the end of its usefulness, we can beg the question, useful to whom? Could the technology be cascaded to others in the organization? Or could the technology that is no longer meeting our needs be donated to individuals and organizations who can put it to good use?

The final step is to ensure that when technology does reach the end of its life it is disposed of properly. This includes both sanitizing devices (i.e., erasing the data) and safely disposing of them. Best practices for electronic device disposal developed by the U.S. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) can help.

On Earth Day we focus on the environmental aspects of sustainability such as reducing emissions, waste, and natural resource consumption. An added benefit is that by responsibly managing the lifecycle of technology we also touch on other aspects of sustainability such as social equity and economic development. Now that’s investing in our planet!

To learn more, consider the following ITSM Academy certification courses:


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