The role of third-party maintenance in the circular economy

Jean-Marc Gottero, head of sales at Evernex, explains how longer IT lifecycles mean less e-waste, fewer manufacturing-related greenhouse gases and greater overall sustainability

clock • 4 min read
The role of third-party maintenance in the circular economy

It might seem a stretch to connect independent infrastructure maintenance with saving the planet, but that is exactly what third-party maintenance (TPM) providers do.

Riding out the after-shocks of a shaken world, organisations have been forced to adapt: changing the way that they operate and reassessing their priorities - including digital transformation.

With a renewed focus on sustainability initiatives, more and more businesses are taking the decision to leverage existing IT infrastructure and eke more life out of proven systems to lessen both their economic and environmental impact.

And it's not only business with sustainability at the top of its agenda.

Manufacturers in the UK face new eco-design and energy labelling regulations that will eventually mirror EU proposals around right to repair, higher energy-efficiency standards and new energy labels on energy consumption.

The EU regulation already in force addresses, among other things, the entire lifecycle of servers and online data storage to enable longer, more secure operation of hardware.

For CIOs, this extension of the IT lifecycle creates valuable space to reconsider financial priorities, and more freedom and flexibility in maintenance contracts.

The Ecodesign Directive 2021 was delivered by the EU Parliament to provide a more holistic view of environmental protection. Their medium-term goal is a sustainable circular economy, a system that covers the entire life cycle of products and is geared towards avoidance or minimisation: less use of resources in production, less energy consumption and emissions in operation and less waste production during disposal.

Initially, server and storage models that came onto the market after 1 March, 2020 had to meet minimum requirements like energy efficiency, for example. There is also a requirement to facilitate the repair and retrofit of IT devices through unhindered access to components as well as manufacturer supply of comprehensive product information and assembly instructions for new models.

Today, the regulation is extending its reach by obliging original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to provide their devices with security updates and updated firmware for up to eight years. OEMs even have to offer the latest available security update of the firmware free of charge - something that is likely to apply to around 80 to 90 per cent of equipment used in data centers.

The new legislation is an important milestone that gives IT departments more freedom to make decisions about their infrastructure, and will remove the issue of OEM-defined lifecycle upgrades, effectively loosening their control over the repair process and a monopoly on replacement parts.

These changes are in line with global trends to boost economic and environmental sustainability, and improve business processes into the bargain. At Evernex, one of the world's leading third-party maintenance provider, we had been focused on this latest ‘trend' for more than 37 years.

While the European Parliament voted at the end of last year to boost sustainability by promoting reuse, repair and recycle practices, Evernex has been battling the ‘premature obsolescence' business model favoured by manufacturing companies to help their customers reduce costs, improve uptime and increase productivity.

For the environment, this means fewer discarded electronics going to landfill. According Global E-waste Monitor 2020 by the Global E-waste Statistics Partnership in 2019, 53.6 million metric tonnes of e-waste were generated worldwide, up 21 per cent on the previous five years. It is estimated that number, without legislative intervention, will reach 74 million metric tonnes by 2030.

Growing greenhouse gas emissions, generated by lifecycle replacement product manufacturing, are also having an increasingly negative impact on climate change.

Third-party maintenance providers are able to contribute to a more sustainable, circular economy by providing technology-agnostic advice on refurbished replacements, and providing continued support on critical data center equipment long after the manufacturer's pre-determined End of Service Life.

And many companies are already using hardware in the data center beyond the manufacturer's service period. A 2019 study by Technogroup IT-Service GmbH (an Evernex subsidiary) shows that almost a third of the companies surveyed have been using their data center hardware for up to ten years, and another 28 per cent for a period beyond that. And it's a growing trend.

Government legislation is seen as an endorsement of the third-party maintenance business model, and underscores the benefits of TPM implementation in a maturing market that is more conscious than ever about its environmental footprint. Longer IT lifecycles mean less e-waste, fewer manufacturing-related greenhouse gases and greater overall sustainability - with up to 70 per cent cost savings on maintenance contracts.

Evernex's core focus on the sustainability that refurbished hardware brings - including repair, reuse and recycling - is about helping customers optimise the way they manage their IT infrastructure: prolonging the life cycle of equipment, delaying CapEx, reducing OpEx, increasing productivity and minimising our collective carbon footprint.

Jean-Marc Gottero, Evernex

About Evernex

As Third-Party Maintenance market leader in Europe, and one of the leading global multi-vendor service providers in data centers, Evernex is committed to the United Nations Global Compact, and was awarded the Ecovadis Silver Medal in both 2020 and 2021, putting it in the top 11% of companies rated by EcoVadis in the ‘repair of computers and personal and household goods' industry. It is WEEE Compliant and certified in ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 14001: 2015. It is currently working to reduce the carbon footprint of its own business, as well as that of its customers.

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