With sustainability moving up the agenda for leaders everywhere, creating sustainable practices across organizations is a growing priority. In fact, for many consumers, sustainability credentials are more important than product price points.

Allyson Mitchell, VP of Sustainability at Mobile reCell, has extensive hands-on experience in designing sustainable practices for organizations, beginning her journey with real estate development and landscape architecture before jumping into tech.

Allyson joined us on SHI’s “We Got Your Mac” podcast to share her knowledge.

Critical challenges for improving your environmental footprint

Most organizations focus on one thing when thinking about sustainability at the end of the asset life: recycling.

But recycling isn’t always the only – or even the best – option when it comes to minimizing your environmental footprint. For many, the idea of a second life for products is a bit out of reach. Leaders like Allyson are out to change that narrative.

Mobile reCell focuses on supporting the circular economy by helping organizations in the recovery phase of asset management. They retrieve and centralize devices so the units can be safely reused, recycled, repaired, remanufactured, or recovered, all while maintaining a keen focus on data privacy and safety.

“The secondary market is so big and continues to expand,” Allyson says. “There’s a big opportunity in maintaining the value of those materials long-term to prevent the environmental impact and preserve the energy already expended in their refining and extraction of materials.”

Currently, very few organizations are leveraging re-deployment efforts at scale, meaning many are missing out on a huge opportunity for minimizing environmental impact and maximizing their existing investment.

While the idea of a secondary product life isn’t yet top of mind on a large scale, it is vital for maintaining sustainable practices and offers benefits far beyond the environmental impact.

“There aren’t very many companies leading the way and doing this at scale. [Having] a recovery process already contemplated at the deployment stage puts businesses far ahead of others in the industry, so they can become leaders in this space very easily,” Allyson says.

The environmental impact of technology procurement

Energy consumption and carbon footprint are leading priorities for organization leaders for good reason. Not only are there increasing regulations and transparency required for these measures, but they are critical for creating sustainable business practices.

However, according to Allyson, sustainability goes far beyond these top concerns.

“Another really important consideration is the durability and the longevity of these devices,” Allyson says. “It’s about the primary and trace materials in those devices.”

Many of the resources used in technology development are finite and increasingly difficult to source. Not only does their sourcing require a damaging impact on the surrounding environment – but once the technology is discarded, it can be detrimental.

“The Earth only has so many of these minerals, and we are placing a higher and higher demand that’s going to continue to increase. So our stewardship of those materials, by preserving them and their highest investment for as long as possible, is really critical.”

These are areas where companies like Apple are taking a stand with strong sustainability efforts, ultimately setting higher standards for organizations to adhere to. With better transparency, diversified strategies, and a clear, strong sustainability position, Apple is taking the stage as a leader in sustainability in IT.

How environmental impacts translate to Mac at scale

With Apple heading up sustainability efforts in the manufacturing of the device, organizations rolling out Mac at scale can follow suit by establishing sustainability systems and practices.

When devices consume less power, require fewer materials, and last much longer, the carbon footprint and ecological impact of those devices are decreased, particularly as they are used and reused having entered a secondary life.

Reducing environmental impact goes far beyond single purchases. It requires setting a high standard for organizational practice transparency, creating a strategy for purchasing, deployment, redeployment, and waste, and finally, ensuring the organization has what it needs without over-purchasing or under-purchasing.

“We’re able to gather metrics on these devices to inform decision making, and not only on the rightsizing of an enterprise’s device needs but also on the reduction of the environmental impact that those devices are having during their deployment, recovery, and post-recovery,” Allyson says. “There’s a huge amount of information to glean from these devices as they move through the entire lifecycle.”

Major organizational pitfalls when improving sustainability

Many business leaders aren’t thinking broadly enough about environmental impact. Making better choices for your organization and the environment requires a more holistic view of technology lifecycles.

Most organizations focus heavily on the procurement and deployment stages of asset management. This is important, ensuring users have the tech they need when they need it. However, limiting consideration and planning to the early stages costs opportunities.

People often don’t put enough planning into the recovery phase,” Allyson says. “Being ready for recovery in the deployment stage is a huge opportunity to be more full circle.

Allyson Mitchell

For IT leaders looking to build a better, more sustainable practice overall, Allyson distills her expertise into three major tips:

1.     Prepare now for coming legislation

Legislation is quickly being finalized, determining reporting requirements. While this may not be in the forefront for all leaders, regulations will be enforced quickly after finalization. Be sure you’re working with stakeholders, partners, and your chief sustainability officer to ensure the entire organization is aligned and ready to provide the required data.

2.     Focus on recovery planning before deployment

Ensure you have a recovery plan in place before deploying any new technology. This will help you build environmentally friendly practices while also protecting investments proactively.

3.     Utilize second-life options as a sustainability solution

A product may be at the end of its life for your organization, but this doesn’t mean it doesn’t have the potential to be useful elsewhere. Before sending tech to the landfill, explore resale and second-life options for your technology – the ROI can manifest both in environmental and financial impact.

Interested in learning more? In our conversation with Allyson, we discuss building impactful strategies for your tech proactively, adhering to upcoming legislation, building practices into your organization for a holistically environmentally friendly business, and more. Listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast player.