Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions make the planet warmer, causing a significant detrimental impact on the environment. Nearly all GHG emissions are a result of human activities, one of which is the production of electronics. By 2040, it’s predicted that emissions from communication technology alone will account for up to 14% of GHG emissions.
Certain emissions, such as fluorinated GHGs used to create LCD panels in computer monitors, are the most potent. Taking steps to limit their release could help to reduce our overall climate impact. As such, many companies are incorporating sustainability into their sustainability goals. Reducing GHG emissions and avoiding greenwashing are two important aspects of building a sustainable future. Quantum can help you with these initiatives in several ways.
Reusing electronics extends their lifespan, prevents new materials from having to be mined, and sidesteps the entire manufacturing process for an additional use by a different consumer. While benefits vary by product, in general, reuse saves 7 to 21 times the emissions as recycling.
When possible, Quantum offers reuse for devices to extend their lifespan. We have a variety of channels for wholesale remarketing to help your refurbished electronics see further use, all while maintaining a secure chain of custody to ensure your private data is never compromised.
In the case of obsolete devices and some other situations, reuse may no longer be a possibility. Recycling is still an excellent way to reduce GHG emissions in these circumstances. It still prevents the need to mine for many new materials, including precious metals, which is an environmentally destructive process that emits GHGs.
When recycling is the next best option after reuse, turn to Quantum. We are a fully audited electronics recycling company that can break down your old equipment into reusable components and recycled commodities safely and securely.
How Quantum Helps You Reduce GHG Emissions & Avoid Greenwashing
Greenwashing is a recent trend in which companies create the false impression that their product or service is more environmentally friendly than they can substantiate. For example, a company might claim their product is “better for the environment” – without qualifying what that actually means. Greenwashing also includes use of vague language or terms that have no real meaning on their own without clarification or evidence, such as “eco-friendly” and “sustainable.”
Companies may also be guilty of greenwashing if they lack certifications or standards. Since the number of certifications or standards has increased significantly, there are usually independent frameworks to certify or standardize against. Even in spaces where certifications are not available, there are still general standards like Certified B Corp or Fair Trade.
Fortunately, Quantum can help you avoid the pitfall of greenwashing so you can maintain authenticity in your sustainability efforts.
No Carbon Credits
One area where greenwashing can be seen is in carbon credits. Each credit represents ownership of one tonne of CO2e. Similar to a stock in the stock market, a carbon credit can be traded, sold, or retired altogether. This can take place in formal cap-and-trade systems or in voluntary systems.
To qualify as a carbon credit, a carbon reduction project must be verified by a third-party validator. They analyze the project to ensure the carbon reductions have clear boundaries and documentation, and that the additionality requirement is met — which means emissions reductions go above and beyond current activities that would have occurred anyway. Many argue that there should be tests for additionality. Proving additionality would help to prevent band-aid solutions, so that companies would truly reduce their emissions first before offsetting. Additionality also helps prevent double counting of emissions reductions, so that only one company can claim reductions.
While carbon credits have only recently entered the discussion in the ITAD industry, it’s an important conversation to have. When looking at the additionality requirement for carbon credits, there is no substantive argument that the practice of ITAD would have happened without carbon credits being involved. In this perspective, the whole ITAD and e-waste industry does not meet the additionality requirement, and should therefore not be selling carbon credits.
To be clear, reuse and recycling of electronics is certainly a net benefit to the environment, and companies that seek to have their surplus IT equipment reused or recycled are making a positive impact on the environment. However, there are some ITAD companies which are selling carbon credits. They are doing so using systems with loose standards of additionality, rather than rigorous international benchmarks. These companies are profiting twice on the transaction – once through the service and again through carbon credits.
For this reason, Quantum does not sell carbon credits. Out of integrity, we do not believe that we, or any company in the ITAD recycling space, should be selling carbon credits. Our industry does not qualify. Instead, Quantum focuses on education. We offer sustainability reporting, showing the estimated emissions saved through reuse and recycling over landfilling and mining new. We also make the data understandable through our GHG reduction calculator and reporting tool, so the numbers are meaningful and decisions can be made.
GHG Reduction Calculator & Reporting
In June 2022, we launched our GHG reduction calculator and reporting tool, which measures GHG reductions achieved through reusing and recycling raw materials and electronics. It draws on data from 16 research studies published from global academics. The calculator then provides an estimation of emissions saved in CO2e, the standard measure in emissions reporting. This information is provided to customers, with breakdowns for reuse and recycling. With this digestible data, you’ll have hard values you can use to back up your claims, and thus avoid the risk of greenwashing.
As our space continues to evolve, we are committed to staying updated and continuing to educate customers so you can continue to meet ESG goals and remain transparent in your efforts. In the meantime, you can find out more about what our electronics recycling process entails here.