Blancco study highlights the rise in e-waste during global pandemic

18 November 2020

Blancco, a firm that helps organisations safely erase data and keep current data secure, has released its new report, The Rising Tide of E-Waste, which shows the impacts the Covid-19 pandemic has had on electronic scrap.

The study, for which Blancco partnered with Coleman Parkes, also shows that 97% of companies surveyed had to buy laptops during the pandemic.

More than 53 metric tons of e-waste was produced in 2019, Blancco states in its study. The purchases of new technology to facilitate employees’ transition to remote work during the pandemic has sparked both data security and e-waste fears as businesses increase the volumes of devices they own and ultimately the amount of data that resides on them.

Blancco’s study showed that nearly 75% of respondents bought devices brand new to deal with the move from traditional offices to home office environments.

However, the study found that 78% of respondents agreed with the statement, “Covid-19 caused unnecessary short-term investment in technology, which will leave us at risk with data being stored on a wide range of devices".

This demonstrates an awareness of security risks among decision-makers. Enterprises will inevitably face challenges following the switch to remote working, but the importance of using appropriate methods of data sanitization when new devices are eventually decommissioned remains imperative.

Aiming to understand these new challenges, the survey explored current approaches to e-waste management and found that while 44% of enterprises did have an e-waste policy in place for end-of-life device management, it was not yet being communicated or implemented.

However, the survey identifies that e-waste initiatives tend to struggle within the modern enterprise due to a lack of ownership around the communication of the policies and in their implementations and compliance.

“The flood of technology investment which followed the beginning of the pandemic has created clear issues for both e-waste and secure data management,” said Alan Bentley, president of global strategy at Blancco. “The switch to remote work spurred on a wave of new device purchases, but these new, widely distributed devices have left enterprises feeling vulnerable. It’s fascinating that so many businesses have implemented roles to manage the e-waste issue resulting from Covid-19, demonstrating corporate social responsibility (CSR), but also their concern around how these devices will be dealt with when they reach end-of-life."