5 Ways Software Supports the Circular Economy

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By giving ITAD companies the tools they need to manage their end-to-end supply chains, reVESTED and NetSuite are helping to chip away at the world’s mounting e-waste problem.

An economic system centered on minimizing waste and making the most of existing resources, the circular economy is coming into clearer focus as more organizations (and individuals) understand the impact of filling our world’s landfills with bulky, hazardous, toxic e-waste. Fixing the problem means going beyond the traditional take-make-waste industrial model and focusing instead on positive, society-wide benefits.

This sounds straightforward enough in theory, but disposing of IT assets without contributing to environmental hazards—while also protecting the original owner’s data—requires a more complex strategy.

The business of getting rid of outdated, broken or unusable technology equipment in an environmentally-safe and responsible manner, IT asset disposal (ITAD) includes data centers, servers, storage, PCs, PC components, monitors and anything else that’s reached the end of its useful life. ITAD companies specialize in these processes—focusing on responsible and cost-effective disposal or remarketing of IT assets where profit is viable.

“Just about everything that goes into a computer or an electronic device is recyclable, and can be converted back into some type of raw material,” says Chris Johnson, Director, Sales and Strategy at The Vested Group. “That’s pretty remarkable, but managing that end-to-end, reverse process can be onerous.”

In many cases, ITAD companies are running their businesses using Excel spreadsheets, QuickBooks, email, and/or Microsoft Access and SQL databases. Others rely on homegrown technology solutions that have evolved over time, but don’t integrate well with other applications. This often leads to information disparities across the multiple systems that are in place (e.g., data in QuickBooks doesn't match the information in a SQL database).

Here’s how reVESTED is helping companies fight past these issues and start running their businesses more profitably and efficiently:

  • Hits e-waste where it hurts. With the average person using more than six different network-connected devices, the world’s e-waste is piling up and expected to reach 120 million tons per year by 2050. These figures place pressure on users and manufacturers to provide solutions that will minimize contribution to the e-waste mountains growing in developing countries around the globe. By supporting ITAD companies that hit e-waste where it hurts, reVESTED and NetSuite are helping to chip away at a problem that’s been impacting earth’s resources for decades.
  • Gets up and running quickly. reVESTED and NetSuite provide a complete, cloud-based solution that these companies can use to manage their growing businesses. Within about 3-5 months (total implementation time for a unique, end-to-end solution, with more complex implementations requiring more time), these critical links in the “green” supply chain can be even more effectively converting e-waste into raw materials that can be reused.
  • Supports growing entities. As ITAD companies move up the value chain, they can test, wipe, and refurbish equipment that can then be remarketed and placed into the hands of users who may not be able to afford new equipment. And, as products are processed, they are costed and reflected in the general ledger and financial reporting.  The entire operation and all financials are visible in real-time charts, graphs, and KPIs presented to users on dashboards. The reVESTED Agreements & Settlements module, for example, helps companies easily maintain relationships and agreement details with equipment providers. It oversees contracts, processes charges, calculates settlements, and enables electronic delivery of detailed product information.
  • Provides complete lifecycle product tracking. For companies that manage multiple truckloads of incoming electronics every day, the reVESTED Triage and Audit module enables the receipt of these products. It also identifies the grade or condition of the products; captures the specific attributes of each product and test results (including a record of wiping); and determines how each product will be processed.
  • Pairs seamlessly with an end-to-end enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution. reVESTED developed an easy way for electronics recyclers to pair an end-to-end ERP with an inbound “sourcing” CRM that helps them evaluate supply, create client agreements, and stay compliant with all industry regulations and requirements. “We took the NetSuite platform and made it so that, as equipment comes through the door, companies can track those goods from the point of origin (e.g., the client that sent it),” Johnson explains, “and then track those individual serialized assets throughout the entire recycling and repurposing process.”

For all organizations working in the ITAD industry, reVESTED serves as a flexible technology platform that allows entities to move up the e-waste value chain—depending on where they are right now, and where they want to be. “We provide a high-level service to companies whose existing legacy systems keep them from growing and moving up the value chain,” says Johnson, “and work with NetSuite to provide a complete, scalable solution that helps them make order out of chaos.”

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