The COVID pandemic has accelerated conversations in the channel around sustainability, but many firms still have it on the "back burner", according to former England scrum half Andy Gomarsall.
Gomarsall is a director of IT asset disposal (ITAD) firm N2S, which uses chemical processes to recover precious metals from e-waste and reuses them in refurbished IT products. He told CRN that the pandemic has generated more interest in the circular economy among channel partners, but that some are still neglecting or ignoring the issue.
"I'm still having conversations where [they say] "We're not ready yet, we're fighting so many different fires. This is on the agenda, but it needs to be on the back burner'," he explained.
"I've got meetings and presentations set up for the early part of 2021. In business that's not miles away at all - it's around the corner - but it's still frustrating in other ways because you want to be having these conversations now.
"From my sporting background, you get a result every weekend and it's quick, you win or lose, you change how you play the game and you go to the next week, and it's very dynamic.
"But in business, it's very lethargic and slow and my slight anxiety is that it's all very well pushing it down the line, but we do need to move and act quickly."
N2S gave CRN no-holds-barred access to its site in March, two weeks before lockdown. This included a tour of its bioleaching facilities (see video bottom).
Since then, attitudes have also changed in the channel as resellers are keener to sell refurbished kit as a result of disrupted global supply chains, Gomarsall noted.
"There was a mad rush when distribution ran out of product and China wasn't manufacturing for a certain period of time, so a number of opinions changed around refurbished equipment," he said.
"I think there's still a bit of a challenge around refurbished - and we're still seeing it - but I think the attitude has definitely changed when we saw a spike in demand for that reason."
The disruption to supply chains caused by the outbreak has also shown the channel the benefit of working with local ITADs, which have proven to be nimbler than global logistics firms, he added.
"It's promoted what ITADs provide and do and probably elevated their services as well as their logistics capability, which it did for us because the speed of your logistics is really important," he explained.
"Global logistics companies do make mistakes and deliveries do not happen or they are delivered to the wrong address, we've seen plenty of that. So an ITAD company that has their own logistics, they don't tend to make those mistakes because they're obviously smaller. With our logistics infrastructure, we don't lean too much on big hauliers and logistics businesses, so we're a bit more nimble and agile and we have that touchpoint with the customer.
"I think COVID has enhanced the need for a greener decade and we're just at the start of it, but I'm keen to accelerate it as quickly as possible."
Liquid immersion cooling is being primed by some as the future of greener datacentres. CRN recently dropped in on Colt's HQ to see the technology in action...
Return-to-work is dividing tech providers large and small. With Boris Johnson urging staff back to the office, CRN summarises the contrasting approaches of seven tech firms on this thorny topic...
As Grant Shapps declares it's "now safe to go back to work', let us know where you stand in our poll
UK-based financial analysts Finbold rank which EU nations have been the top violators of GDPR this year
Zoom In: Former rugby champ Gomarsall on how COVID-has reset the sustainability debate in the channel
The N2S director opens up on acceleration of the circular economy and how the pandemic is proving ITAD's worth to the channel
Print vendor acquires DataVision in Germany and SimplicITy in Poland as it looks to bolster IT services footprint
Symantec contributes $400m to Broadcom's revenue
MSP to kick off M&A spree across the UK and Ireland