Every day must be Earth day
April 19, 2021
Timothy prickett morgan
Every day is Earth Day at IBM, as it is with many companies trying to reduce their environmental impact and increase the sustainability of their business and our planet at the same time.
But that doesn’t mean we don’t celebrate the real Earth Day, which takes place on April 22 of this year and first took place on that day in 1970. At the time, at birth Of the environmental movement, 10% of the people of the United States took to the streets to protest peacefully against the environmental and health impacts of a century and a half of a largely unfettered industrial revolution. And Earth Day literally changed politics and business – first here in the United States, then around the world.
With Earth Day in mind, we had a conversation with Linda Demmler, Director of Operations at IBM Global Asset Recovery Services, which is the division of IBM Global Financing that deals with the refurbishment and resale of IBM servers, storage and other equipment as well as the recycling of components of these machines when they reach their end of life. life. We wanted to get a feel for the positive environmental impact IBM and its customers have, as they keep machines alive and get every drop of economic and technical life out of them.
Timothy Prickett Morgan: As you know, sustainability and environmental issues are important to the C Suite, and IBM research Institute for Business Value shows that companies and their IT departments are increasingly focused on sustainability. IBM has a long history here, doesn’t it?
Linda Demmler: IBM’s leadership in environmental sustainability is not a new trend. We don’t suddenly jump on the bandwagon. It’s something that has been in our DNA since the 1960s and is part of our core beliefs. In the 1970s, we were one of the first companies to establish a formal environmental leadership program. IBM Global Asset Recovery Services has seen many twists and turns over the years to take advantage of market opportunities, and in the 1980s we were created primarily to recover the residual value of non-lease assets from IBM Global Financing. In the 1990s, IBM began to self-declare its sustainability goals and its progress in achieving those goals. These were not driven by industry or government compliance requirements, but by IBM’s own environmental leadership.
At the moment, Global Asset Recovery Services was consolidated into one corporate service for the recovery and resale of all used equipment across the IBM enterprise, and then we could really start reporting the percentage of reuse, resale and recycling. From 1995, when IBM began including product recovery in our annual corporate environmental report, until the end of 2019, IBM documented the collection and processing of approximately 1.08 million metric tonnes. (approximately 2.38 billion pounds) of product and product waste. In 2019 alone, over 95% (by weight) was recycled, resold or reused, and only 0.8% was sent by IBM to landfills or incineration facilities for disposal. In 2020, we started selling IBM Certified Pre-Owned Servers, storage, parts and features directly to customers and our business partners on our open access Marketplace website.
TPM: I am a kid of the 1970s and am known to be a diligent recycler – every item made is sacred because of the energy and pollution footprint it creates and cannot be wasted. You can refurbish and reuse all kinds of stuff for a while when it comes to computers, but recycling is a different thing I think. It’s hard to take things apart and recycle them, and hard to get all the metals out of this gear, and I suspect it’s more complicated than melting a motherboard and siphoning the gold.
Linda Demmler: It is certainly getting more complicated, but there are initiatives that make it easier. IBM, for example, established our Environmental Product Design Program in 1991, which requires IBM to develop, manufacture, and market products that can be recycled, and GARS provides design cycle input to make products more easy to reuse, easier to recycle. Use a clip where you don’t need to use screws. Use a reusable component rather than plastic that is thrown away. Of the 95 percent that is recycled, reused or resold, about 34 percent is in fact reused and resold. We shred very little. We reuse so much We therefore have less raw materials to recycle or dispose of as hazardous waste.
Sustainability is a great collaboration between IBM. Whether it’s our Global Business Services sustainable development practice, our environmental affairs and corporate social responsibility teams, Global Asset Recovery Services or Systems Group, all business units are working together to truly make the magic of sustainability a reality. It is not just an autonomous sustainable development organization working in a vacuum. You need to work in partnership across the organization to achieve aggressive environmental goals.
As a profit-oriented, income-producing organization, GARS balances both growth and sustainability leadership practices. Every expense, every dollar counts. But we are also very concerned with how we continue to provide 95% reuse / resale / recycling returns.
TPM: How long do you see machines stretching in life over time? People are talking about cascading laptops that have been used for six to ten years, or even more, by many users. I guess there are cascading servers as well. The average server in a hyperscaler or large public cloud has been around for three years, but it spans four or even five years.
Linda Demmler: Each product will have its limits. I think storage devices with spinning drives probably have a bit more wear and tear, although we can replace everything. This is one of the benefits of being placed with a captive finance company for an OEM – we have access to the maintenance records and we can see when to swap out components after four or five years.
TPM: EAlthough IBM was a manufacturer of disk drives, they were only warranted for five years.
Linda Demmler: True. We have a few philosophies on equipment longevity. One is to extend the first life of a product. Can you sell it to the company that originally rented it? This is great, because they can then cascade it into their business, and you don’t have any shipping costs or environmental impacts from shipping. Once a product is returned, we work to find secondary and even tertiary extended lifetimes for equipment and this is especially true for servers and PC equipment.
TPM: When something really comes to the end of its life, like an old system that has been in use for a decade or two, reo do customers call IBM to get rid of it? I don’t want to just throw it in the trash somewhere.
Linda Demmler: Nobody wants that. IBM is committed to resuming programs when customers call in and say, “I’m done, you’re the original OEM, you’re taking this back.” IBM participates in various take-back programs for recycling covered products, batteries or packaging which vary according to local regulations.
We support selective exchanges. If customers buy new equipment, we will remove the old equipment from the ground. If you contract with IBM Global Technology Services, now Kyndryl, and they outsource your data center, they also work with us to take the equipment out of the data center and reuse it somewhere inside. ‘IBM or resell it.
TPM: And when customers tell you it’s old, it’s dead, is it Global Asset Recovery ServiceDoes it do that, or is it another part of IBM?
Linda Demmler: If it is very old and there is no chance of remanufacturing, no chance of salvage value, the machine can be disassembled, parts sold and remains scrapped. Customers may contact IBM for free product recycling of equipment manufactured by IBM. More information can be found online at https://www.ibm.com/ibm/recycle/ww.
TPM: What is the most important thing in implementing sustainability in the data center? I mean, there’s an interplay between always running the most fuel-efficient machines and upgrading, but to do that you still need to make full use of the old equipment to cover the environmental impact of building it in the first place. . These are difficult calculations and not always easy. But where is the important starting point?
Linda Demmler: I am on the phone every day with clients asking us, first, what are our practices for recovering value, and second, how do they ensure environmental compliance?
The first thing companies need to do is put in place an environmental policy. It has to be in the DNA of the executing business units – not just policy, but operational execution. And if you have this end-to-end responsibility, throughout the business, it is possible to be effective in achieving your sustainability goals.
The other important thing is to wring out the towel. We take every drop of value from the equipment we owe and sell it on. We have reconditioning centers around the world, some run by IBM, others by partners. A reconditioning center is located in Poughkeepsie, New York, and it receives all of our servers from around the world and manages this inventory for reuse, resale and recycling. Our operations for low margin basic equipment are more decentralized in IBM regions. Our reconditioning facilities know what to do with servers, storage and other IT equipment, and how to do it with minimal contact and minimal expense. We know before anything is returned to us exactly if and how we can reuse it, resell it, take it apart and recycle it. And that happens as soon as it hits the ground in Poughkeepsie for example. This enables a highly efficient process, which reduces costs, contributes to the achievement of IBM’s sustainability goals as well as the achievement of our customers’ goals. It’s a win-win-win. See IBM Certified Pre-Owned Servers, Storage, Parts and Features on the IBM Marketplace website.
This content is sponsored by IBM.
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