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Sims begins calculating environmental impact of ITAD

Working at a laptop.

Sims Lifecycle Solutions developed a tool to help clients take stock of the fact that asset retirement is an integral part of sustainability goals. | Vahe Aramyan/Shutterstock

Global ITAD and e-scrap processing company Sims Lifecycle Services recently launched a “sustainability calculator,” a tool to quantify for clients the environmental benefits associated with asset recovery.

Sims Lifecycle Services (SLS) in November announced the project, explaining that the tool “calculates the carbon reduction from reuse, redeployment and recycling using data from units – both whole and components – which SLS processed on behalf of its clients.”

Angela Catt, chief sustainability and financial officer for SLS, said the calculator came out of the company looking at its clients’ ambitious sustainability goals and taking stock of the fact that asset retirement is an integral part of those goals.

“We need to be able to provide them with the insights to feed into their own sustainability reports and their goals,” Catt said. SLS has also heard from clients that want this level of detail related to asset disposition activities.

“We’re seeing more and more clients be interested in this, and want to measure it and want to track it,” Catt said.

Going beyond recycling-versus-disposal

The company looked into what kinds of ITAD environmental impact estimates have been available in the past. SLS found a couple gaps in the existing impact estimators, compared with what the company wanted to offer its clients.

For example, there are existing tools that calculate carbon benefits based on devices being recycled versus going to a landfill. This is a valuable metric, Catt noted, but SLS wanted to take it further.

When you reuse or redeploy a unit or a piece of equipment, you get a significantly greater carbon reduction than if you just recycle it,” Catt said.

So, SLS created a calculator that takes into account both full and partial reuse and redeployment.

Calculating the impact of reuse first requires detailed data collection on the types of devices and components being collected, reused and redeployed. That goes down to model numbers, age of the device and other details.

With a firm registry of the exact devices and components being handled, the second component of the calculation brings in life cycle assessment (LCA) data for all of those devices and components.

Some of that LCA data was already available, but some of it SLS collected and generated from its own internal analyses.

One step further

Additionally, the calculator takes into account differences in environmental impact by the geographical location of devices being retired and processed.

“What we find is that in different geographies we’ve got different carbon footprints for operating,” Catt said. That can be due to differences in transportation or electricity use associated with a specific facility, for example.

Kristine Kearney, marketing manager for SLS, said the locational difference lets the company avoid using too many assumptions. It lets SLS dive into a level of detail that hasn’t been explored in previous calculators.

“What we really like about that element is how unique it is to our clients processing with us,” Kearney said.

The resulting report will feature high-level details on Scope 3 emissions, which are a company’s indirect greenhouse gas emissions, from supply chain activities, for example. It will also include figures on carbon reduction from all ITAD activities, waste reduction and more, available for quarterly periods.

The numbers are designed to be ready for a client to send to its sustainability team to plug in for company reporting.

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