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Survey identifies reasons some companies trash assets

The No. 1 explanation given by respondents who admitted to throwing away electronics was that organizing their IT assets was too difficult. | Damrong Rattanapong/Shutterstock

Nearly a third of IT professionals at small- and medium-sized businesses admitted that they trash at least some used electronics rather than dispose of them in a responsible manner, according to a software marketplace’s survey.

The survey from Arlington, Va.-based Capterra shows 29% of the small and midsize businesses (SMBs) that took the survey admitted to throwing at least some old electronics in the trash, rather than recycling, redeploying, remarketing or donating them. 

“For quickly growing businesses, it’s easy to imagine a scenario where used IT assets begin to build up and, amid competing priorities, a decision is made to take the easy way out,” Zach Capers, senior security analyst at Capterra, said in a press release. “However, there are serious environmental, legal, and regulatory implications of improper IT asset disposal.”

Capterra’s 2023 IT Management Survey polled 500 IT professionals at SMBs. The company is interested in the topic because its marketplace includes IT asset management software. 

The survey asked companies that say they have an ITAD process in place which methods they use when they decommission hardware. Among the respondents, who were allowed to choose multiple answers, 80% said they recycle, 65% said they redeploy, 62% said they remarket, 54% said they donate and 29% said they landfill. 

Capterra noted that landfilling was more frequently reported by younger companies. The survey asked those respondents who indicated they throw at least some electronics in the trash what they struggle with during the ITAD process. Among those respondents, who were allowed to select multiple answers, 62% said they have difficulty organizing IT assets for disposal, 56% said they struggle with the cost of responsible IT asset disposition, 55% said they have concerns about environmental impact, 52% said they have trouble identifying reputable e-waste vendors and 52% said they face complications documenting a chain of custody. 

On its face, concern about the environment among companies trashing electronics doesn’t make a lot of sense. In fact, companies trashing electronics were more likely to express that concern than the ones disposing of assets appropriately. 

Capterra suggested their worry was “perhaps stemming more from guilt than altruism.” 

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