The rush to provide adequate technology to those working remotely during the Covid-19 pandemic has driven a huge increase in e-waste, one data security firm has warned.

More people than ever are now working from home, for which their companies had to provide adequate technology with very little notice. The result was a stratospheric increase in device sales during the early days of the pandemic, with businesses buying up devices, video calling technologies and various peripherals to keep their employees connected and productive.

Whilst all this meant the transition to home working was a smooth one for employees and businesses alike, one aspect should not be overlooked – that of e-waste.

Data security firm Blancco said that enterprise was responsible for 53 million tons of e-waste in 2019 alone. Now, amid reports that 97% of businesses refreshed their hardware during the pandemic, this figure is all but guaranteed to rise further for 2020.

The environmental impact of this is clear, but there’s another aspect that businesses should be keen to address, that of data deletion. Despite many devices containing sensitive data, only 44% of businesses surveyed by Blancco said they had an e-waste policy in place for end-of-life management. What’s more, even amongst these businesses with a policy, many struggled with it not being communicated or implemented across the wider business.

The issue seems to be more pressing for smaller businesses, which are either unaware of the dangers or haven’t managed to put measures in place yet. Larger firms, Blancco discovered, were more likely to have set measures in place for disposing of e-waste, often bound up into their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), by offering old devices to charities or certified recyclers. But this wasn’t the case for SMEs.

Blacco’s President of Global Strategy, Alan Bentley, advised businesses that properly administered e-waste processes provide the “perfect opportunity to engage data management best practices.

“Not only will this reduce environmental impact,” he concluded, “it will also remove the risk of a data breach when disposing of devices at end-of-life.”