Canadian SMBs not walking the talk on IT recycling: Samsung

Small and medium sized Canadian companies overwhelmingly believe that recycling used IT products is the “right thing to do” but a majority of local SMBs admit they do not consider disposal of hardware when sourcing equipment, according to a survey recently released by electronics manufacturer Samsung Canada.

Fifty seven per cent of respondents said implementing a formal recycling program or end-of-life (EOL) program for company equipment was the right thing to do. Another 20 per cent said it was part of being a “good corporate citizen” and another 10 per cent indicated they support internal sustainability programs, according to the survey released during the recent Carbon Economy Summit 2010 sponsored by Rogers Connect in Toronto.

As much as 80 per cent of the respondents realized that “not being environmentally sustainable is a risk” to an organization’s corporate brand and reputation. However, no less than 55 per cent of companies indicated they did not put into consideration EOL disposal and recycling programs when purchasing IT equipment.

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The survey, conducted between July and Aug. this year, involved questioning some 307 local IT decision makers online on their equipment purchasing and disposal practices. The survey is accurate within 5.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, according to Samsung.

“The findings which jump out at me was that 94 per cent of the respondents agree with the statement that EOL disposal and recycling programs should be the responsibility of the manufacturer,” said Mathew Weiner, Mississauga, Ont-based marketing manager for the IT solutions group of Samsung.

“It’s not only the manufacturers’ but also the consumers’ and corporate buyers’ responsibility to make sure that green IT practices are in place,” he said.

These findings reflect a recent global survey on green IT conducted by Forrester Research.

“Only 26 per cent of organizations surveyed have budgets directly allocated to green IT,” said Doug Washburn, Forrester analyst for infrastructure and operations.

He said the research found that green IT is much higher, approaching 70 per cent adoption, in areas of data centre and distributed IT.

However, the global survey also had some rosier findings.

“Firms are forging ahead with green IT, even without dedicated budgets,” Washburn said.

For instance, the survey found that 45 per cent of IT organizations are implementing or creating a green IT strategy, with an additional 34 per cent considering it.

Weiner acknowledged that most SMBs are hamstrung by limited resources and budgets from pursuing vigorous sustainability projects. “Comprehensive recycling and disposal programs are more evident in large enterprises that in smaller organizations.”

About 37 per cent of those asked said their company had no formal recycling and EOL program because of lack of knowledge about available programs. Another 24 per cent cited limited time and resources as a reason for not having such programs. About 22 per cent said they had no recycling programs because IT vendors did not offer them.

“I think this is a big opportunity for IT vendors and manufacturers like us to roll out education programs aimed at informing our customers about the recycling programs we have,” said Weiner.

Of course, Samsung is hardly a squeaky clean manufacturer as far as environmentalist group Greenpeace is concerned. The company is a target of a recent Greenpeace campaign that skewers Samsung for failing to act on a 2004 promise to eliminate PVC and brominated flame retardants (BFRs) from new models of all its products. It was only two years ago that Greenpeace named Samsung and Toshiba as leaders in its green electronics rankings.

The organization said that all new models of Apple, Nokia and Sony Ericsson phones are PVC and BFR free but so far only two Samsung phones, the Blue Earth GT-s7550 and the Reclaim M560 do not contain the toxic substances.

Weiner said he does not have enough current data on PVC and BFR presence on Samsung products but said: “We are not perfect but we’re working on improving our products.”

Samsung Canada last year launched a program wherein the company recycles used Samsung products free of charge.

Weiner said Samsung Recycling Direct for Consumers and Samsung Recycling Direct for Businesses, has the company partnering with Canadian recycler Global Electric Electronic Processing (GLEEP) in collecting e-waste.

GLEEP has 46 recycling depots all over the country where companies and consumers can deliver their used Samsung electronics for recycling and disposal free of charge.

“We guarantee that none of the products or their components will be delivered to a third world country or end up in a landfill,” said Weiner. The Samsung executive said the materials are properly disposed off and recycled in Canada, the U.S. or in Europe.

Nestor Arellano is a Senior Writer at ITBusiness.ca. Follow him on Twitter, read his blog, and join the IT Business Facebook Page.

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