Companies often deliberately shorten product lifespans to ensure continued consumer spending. This process of ‘planned obsolescence’ means lower-cost product production for the manufacturer as well as an assurance that the consumer and businesses will eventually purchase new products or services as replacement for the old. Though this strategy may make good business sense, it challenges the idea of sustainability and causes significant harm to the environment.

Businesses want to keep their employees equipped with the latest technologies but do not want to pay excessive amounts for the newest devices. This demand results in manufacturers cutting corners during production and using inexpensive parts with a shorter life span. Implementing a mobile asset recovery program allows your organization to offset the cost of upgrading to the newest technologies while being environmentally responsible.

Increasingly shorter life cycles for mobile devices not only put a dent in telecom budgets but also in the earth's natural resources. The production of mobile devices requires raw materials such as gold, silver and copper, as well as an energy-intensive process involving toxic materials that takes a heavy toll on the environment. In addition, once these devices become obsolete, they are often exported as e-Waste to developing nations where they clog up landfill sites.

Once in these developing countries, the e-Waste is dumped in toxic landfills where primitive open-acid baths and open-air burning are used to extract the precious metals inside. Not only do the extraction methods cause substantial harm to the environment, the inhalation of the toxic fumes emitted can cause significant health problems and even death for the local men, women and children in these regions.

The EPA estimates that 70 to 80 percent of electronics recycling companies in this country either directly or indirectly export electronic waste into “toxic wastelands” in these countries. e-Stewards®, a leading global program, allows businesses looking to dispose of their old electronic equipment to easily identify recycling companies that adhere to the highest standards of environmental responsibility and employee protection. Created by the Basel Action Network (BAN), e-Stewards Certification is the only electronics recycler certification program that prohibits the export of hazardous waste to developing countries, requires a certified ISO 14001 and R2 environmental management system, includes industry-specific worker health and safety requirements and bans the use of prison labor in handling of sensitive data.

In January of this year, e-Cycle became the first mobile phone buyback and recycling company to achieve e-Stewards Certification. e-Cycle provides businesses a safe and environmentally friendly method for the disposal of used mobile phones and devices. Assisting organizations in taking a more responsible, secure and profitable approach to wireless recycling, e-Cycle purchases used cell phones and tablets that still retain value and responsibly recycles all others at no charge through an EPA-registered facility. A rigorous multi-step data deletion process permanently removes confidential data stored on these devices. Not only does e-Cycle maintain a strict zero landfill policy, their e-Stewards Certification also ensures dedication to upholding the highest global standards for environmental responsibility.

Companies continuously replacing old gadgets for new ones will become an unsustainable business practice unless a proper electronics and mobile recycling program is implemented. Not only is it costly for businesses but e-Waste is also the world’s fastest growing waste stream. Without a responsible electronic recycling process, the earth’s natural resources will continue to deplete and toxic e-Waste will continue piling up in the landfills of developing countries. Partnering with e-Stewards Certified recyclers is the only way to ensure your organization can remain equipped with the latest technologies while still protecting the environment.

To find out more, view the article 'Designed to fail' electronics a global problem.

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