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BT and Cisco partner to help businesses responsibly dispose of unwanted IT equipment

A new programme launches to fight the growing issue of corporate e-waste and support business' circular economy targets

BT has partnered with networking giant Cisco to launch a new programme aimed at helping businesses reduce their e-waste and achieve their circular economy targets.

The programme will see BT’s environmental specialists working with businesses to understand their goals and offer ways to responsibly repurpose old networking equipment.

Businesses are increasingly embracing digital transformation and pivoting to multi-cloud environments which often involves changing IT and networking equipment to support the move, BT said.

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Businesses will have the opportunity to work with the UK telecoms leader to not only recycle their old equipment but also receive support to help them better understand their role in influencing tech sustainability.

Cisco will be leading the efforts to either reuse or recycle participating business’ decommissioned networking equipment.

The US-based networking firm will receive all shipments of unwanted equipment and promised to responsibly repurpose up to 99.9% of the equipment delivered to them. 

BT has Cisco-certified ‘environmental specialists’ working in the UK, US, Italy, Ireland, Switzerland and Singapore. They will be working with businesses in their respective regions to manage the programme.

There are more countries planned to be added to the list by the end of 2022, BT said, but the companies haven’t committed to an exact number. 

“E-waste is a growing concern and according to the World Economic Forum (WEF) now the fastest-growing waste stream in the world,” said Hriday Ravindranath, chief product and digital officer at BT’s Global unit. “Our customers and partners have made commitments to report on and improve performance in this critical area.

“Creating a more sustainable, circular economy, where we prioritise dematerialisation and avoid equipment going to landfill, is vital. It builds on our leadership in sustainability and will help deliver on our BT Group Manifesto commitments and ambition to connect for good.”

In a 2021 report, the WEF said the worldwide contribution to e-waste would outweigh the Great Wall of China.

An estimated 57.4 tonnes of waste was to be discarded by the end of 2021, it said, blaming the growth of consumption and production of electronic products as the main reasons. 

There are numerous methods a business can use to tackle its own e-waste contribution such as choosing to invest in devices with software that’s known to be supported for a long period of time.

Apple has a troubled history with allegations of hardware-based planned obsolescence in the past, but the company is widely heralded for the long periods of software support.

Its mobile operating system iOS is often used as an example and compared to Android devices which often receive updates for a comparatively much shorter time, potentially reducing the device’s lifespan and increasing the likelihood they will be resigned to e-waste.

BT has been championing the fight against e-waste for some time. It launched a public appeal in August last year to encourage the general public to research recycling opportunities for unused or unwanted tech that may be lying around the house.

A survey commissioned by the company revealed almost a third of Britons (31%) didn’t know how to recycle unwanted devices, with printers proving to be the most confusing. 

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