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Earth Week 2021 – Reflection and Resolution

ITRenew has been steadfastly working towards a zero-carbon proposition over 10 years. On this 2021 Earth Day, we came together as a company to underscore our name, values, and actions.

Meeting the needs of today, without compromising the need of the future, is one of the definitions of sustainability, along with the 3 pillars of sustainability promise: Environmental protection, economic prosperity, and an equitable and just process. These 3 pillars are then then aligned with an organization’s goals and operationalized. At ITRenew, we defined them as

  • sustainability alignment with the global hyperscalers,
  • making the internal company operations carbon free, and
  • providing frameworks for the entire circular supply chain community that deal with the same challenges for responsible growth.

Few companies can claim that they made adequate progress on all three pillars of sustainability. However, many, like ITRenew, surely have their path set on the fruitful framework. Let me tell you why, from the perspective of institutionalizing sustainability, putting visions into action, and producing results.

There are several pathways to get to sustainability. A company needs to be at the confluence of many paths for this decade’s sustainability work to count. There is the zero-carbon or deep decarbonization pathway, which systematically looks at all the sources of carbon (scope 1, 2 and 3 inventory) and sets science-based targets to reduce them. This is foundational and somewhat unavoidable in the long term. There is also the zero-waste pathway, which looks at the 5 key principles of waste reduction – reduce, reuse, recycle, compost and, when all other possibilities are exhausted, landfill. This addresses responsible growth, procurement, and lifecycle mindset at the get-go because what is produced and purchased today is in the waste steam tomorrow. Any organization that designs their products and services with the end in mind, naturally arrives at the basecamp of sustainability ideals.

The accelerating sweet spot is the emerging and increasingly popular circular economy pathway, which takes the best of both pathways in a regenerative and repeatable formula. This path designs waste out, keeping already extracted materials in its use phase as long as possible. It also regenerates the Earth in the process, transitioning from an extraction-oriented linear economy to a regenerative and more socially benevolent circular economy. ITRenew is founded on the principles of IT hardware decommissioning and reuse. We refurbish to extend the product life-cycle from 3 to 10 years and create a closed loop solution for an industry with explosive IT hardware growth. This is a gamechanger and a sustainability solution in name and action.

Because ITRenew is committed to reuse and most activities are in small warehouses without intense HVAC systems, our scope 1 and 2 direct emissions are small with a carbon intensity of less than .005 metric tns of carbon-di-oxide equivalent /gross square foot of operations. Because the company is in the business of reuse and extending the product lifecycle, its Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) is very attractive to downstream markets who are not in the hyperscale growth mode. Because ITRenew is committed to reuse of IThardware, which is the backbone of IT software and artificial intelligence, the existence of its operations adds insignificant scope 3 indirect emissions into the process – which is a rare claim for any company.

Reuse is a virtue, not an afterthought. Reuse is a major sustainability trend now and in all sectors of the economy. It is in principal alignment with sustainability values. It is also a liberating economic model for businesses. If your company has not had the time to see the full potential of reuse, this Earth Week is a good opportunity to reengage.

This Earth Week 2021, we have seen many posts, articles, reports, and new commitments from all local and global companies. It seems that the most progressive organizations and companies are committing to zero-carbon goals, zero-waste goals, and a circular economy alignment. These are mutually supportive and, in this decade of action, we need all pathways and delivery mechanisms activated, and put our emphasis on one or many with awareness of them all.

As Earth Week serves as the New Year’s Day for all of us sustainability practitioners, let me underscore the point of partnerships in closing. Open collaboration has never been more important. Here is just one example of what is happening in IT through the Open Compute Project. We need to collaborate intensely between company silos, and we need to collaborate openly within our supply chain, business, academia, and social services organizations. Since the pathways to sustainability are many, and each framework presents a neural network of a slightly different kind, it is only through collaboration that we can row in the direction of zero-carbon, zero-waste, and an equitable economy, society, and a slightly more restored Earth. Let collaboration be an affirmation of our joint work ahead and the accelerating factor.