As the Covid-19 pandemic emptied offices and created a new generation of mobile workers, businesses around the world were forced to make a rapid and unplanned transition to remote working. For many companies, the IT department became the unsung hero of the crisis, playing a pivotal role in ensuring continuity, resilience and productivity.

Now, as businesses large (500+ employees), medium (200-499), and small (50-199) look to understand the long-term effects of the pandemic, there are still significant challenges for IT managers to overcome to build resilience and manage continued operational disruption and financial pressure.

As our research shows, a big shift is underway, with desktop PCs being retired in favour of mobile technology, such as laptops and tablets – stretching IT budgets and potentially compounding the global electronic waste (e-waste) crisis.

The world already generates 53.6 million metric tonnes of e-waste each year, according to the UN’s ‘Global E-Waste Monitor 2020’ – the equivalent of throwing away 1,000 laptops every second – and the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on these figures is yet to be seen. Both governments and business must confront this growing environmental challenge now, as despite the pandemic, consumer pressure to act on climate change has not disappeared. With e-waste on the rise, flexible working here to stay, and IT budgets forced to go much further than before, there is no shortage of challenges ahead. As this report reveals, the leading IT decision makers are adopting new, more sustainable ways of managing IT that delivers technology’s many benefits – productivity, creativity, collaboration – through access to IT devices, not ownership of them. We discuss the road ahead for IT decision makers, as they balance the demands of business resilience, financial responsibility and sustainability in the context of Covid-19.



3 step IT report

Download the report here to discover how BNP Paribas 3 Step IT Circular Economy model helps customers achieve their sustainability targets.

● 84% of companies purchased new IT for remote working during Covid-19
● Two-thirds of businesses plan to allow employees to remain working from home
● 1 in 10 IT decision-makers confess that they have dumped old IT assets in landfill

INTERNATIONAL E-WASTE DAY, 14 OCTOBER 2020: New research released today by Technology Lifecycle Management provider, 3stepIT, has revealed that the global pandemic has rapidly accelerated the digital transformation of businesses across Europe.

As remote working took hold on a phenomenal scale this year, 84% of European businesses purchased additional hardware to maintain operations, with nearly half of IT strategies now including home working and social distancing as key objectives.

With 60% of businesses now planning to allow employees to continue to work from home, 3stepIT’s research hints at a devastating impact for the planet, with millions of desktops set to become obsolete. The research shows almost a quarter (23%) of desktop PCs are not expected to be needed over the coming year.

53.6Mt of e-waste is generated every year (the equivalent of throwing away 1000 laptops per second) and despite growing consumer pressure on businesses to operate sustainably, there is still widespread uncertainty among businesses about how to consume technology responsibly.

Of the businesses surveyed, 36% admitted they did not know where their e-waste ended up. One in 10 IT decision-makers confessed to dumping old technology in landfill, suggesting the devices abandoned during the pandemic could add to growing levels of harmful business e-waste.

CEO, 3stepIT, Carmen Ene, said:

“For many businesses, the IT department has been the unsung hero of the pandemic, shouldering the burden of business resilience, continuity and even employee wellbeing. Most are still facing an uphill battle to modernise quickly, while juggling the demands of budget restrictions and growing pressure to operate sustainably.”

“With global e-waste volumes rising, and potentially accelerated by the impact of the pandemic, businesses must adopt a greener, circular way of consuming technology.”

Forward-thinking companies have seized this opportunity to transition to greener IT practices, having understood the tangible business value it delivers – improved efficiency, profitability, security and, crucially, resilience. Sustainable IT isn’t just better for the planet, it’s better for business too.”

The new research is explored in ‘The State of Business IT 2020’ report, which quizzed over 1000 IT decision makers across the UK, Europe and Nordic countries.

Highlights include:

  • 84% of companies purchased additional hardware to enable employees to work at home during Covid-19.
  • 60% of businesses plan to allow employees to continue remote working.
  • 23% of desktop PCs are not expected to be required over the coming year.
  • 31% of IT decision makers see sustainability as central to their IT strategies and 65% have e-waste targets in place.
  • Despite this:
  • 36% don’t know where their electronic waste ends up.
  • 25% admit that old or broken IT assets are locked in storage.
  • 10% confess to dumping old IT assets in landfill.
  • Over half (56%) of IT decision makers request that governments put mandatory reporting or targets in place to force businesses to sustainably dispose of IT assets.


The research was carried out using an online questionnaire and conducted through specialist B2B sample panels conducted by independent research house Omnisis that identify the individual with overall responsibility for IT budgets in organisations employing more than 50 people.

The Guardian recently published a thought-provoking article on the Circular Economy. One of the kye takeaways was that today our economy is inherently linear and this is ‘undermining the very foundation of our future’. Circular Economy will address this, whereby less wastage will reduce the damage on the planet.

But the Circular Economy has so much more to offer, it will have a very real and very significant impact on our economy. The Guardian article suggests an ‘estimated net savings of £523bn to European companies.’

At 3 Step IT we have been focused on the Circular Economy, recognising both the environmental and economic benefits. We have been making a series of small differences for over 20 years, through our circular approach to purchasing IT equipment. We find new homes for IT equipment and transform the old way of make-take-dispose to make-take-reuse

And when you consider manufacturing just one computer and monitor it takes roughly 530lb (240kg) 1.5 tonnes of fossil fuel, 48lb (21.8kg) of chemicals, and 1.5 tonnes of water. Yet we discard 20 – 50 million metric tonnes of e-waste every year!

Since our humble beginnings, we have refurbished and reused over 5 million devices. We have delivered over £125 million in savings for our customers and reduced the impact on the environment by doubling the lifecycle of refurbished equipment.

The actions of us as a single company, is like a butterfly flapping its wings. If we all collaborate and play our role in the Circular Economy, the changes we make today, will make a massive difference to tomorrow.

If you have any old kit gathering dust, why not get in touch. We can take your old kit and unlock the cash value in it, which you can invest back into your business. And you can make your first step towards contributing towards a Circular Economy.

Sustainability is no longer a burden or a PR term. Sustainability is an essential part of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and a key area of growth for companies.

Writing for the Financial Times, head of sustainable investing at Hermes Investment Management, Andrew Parry, explained that sustainability and returns go hand in hand. He added: “The growth in sustainable investing has accelerated in recent years, particularly in Europe, as investors begin to realise that sustainability can generate attractive growth rates and certainly more resilient business franchises.”

Parry believes the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are the “beta of future growth” and shouldn’t be seen as a burden.

The UN SDGs were agreed in 2015, with each of the 17 goals having specific targets to achieve over the next 15 years. The goals aim to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all. They include: zero hunger; affordable and clean energy; decent work and economic growth; industry, innovation, and infrastructure; sustainable cities and communities; responsible consumption and production; and climate action.

These goals aim to provide solutions for unmet needs in global society. According to estimates from the UN, an additional $3tn of capital will need to be raised every year to meet the targets by 2030.

Businesses Shouldn’t view sustainability as an unnecessary cost

Parry notes that innovative companies addressing social or environmental deficits view the figure as an exciting growth opportunity, and this mindset should be adopted by all.

Not only can a sustainable approach help the environment, but it can also help businesses and economies. In China, it is estimated that pollution reduces total GDP by 9%, and a comparable figure is also applicable for India.

While Parry was met with initial cynicism when planning to hold a talk on sustainability at a conference in Singapore last year, his talk turned out to be one of the most popular sessions from the two-day event. So, it is clear that people want to listen to and engage with sustainable practices and the impact it can have on business growth.

3 Step IT Comment

Technology is advancing at an incredible rate, and it is helping to make companies from all industries and of all sizes to become more productive and competitive.

However, with technology cycles becoming ever shorter, it’s important that businesses employ a refresh strategy that has sustainability at the heart of it.

At 3 Step IT we’re obsessive that efficiency and value work hand in hand with sustainable solutions, so it’s great that these thoughts have been echoed by Andrew Parry.

Working with our customers, we have been able to re-use 98% of IT equipment that is returned to us. We data erase the equipment and give it a second life, pushing it back in to the economy.

Sustainability is a win/win for everyone

  • Businesses can refresh technology in a way that showcases their commitment to CSR
  • There is less e-waste, which means reduced impact on the environment
  • As a society – The equipment is typically sold into the education sector, giving them access to affordable technology

This approach is very much ‘Circular’ and it allows businesses to use our IT lifecycle services to ‘access’ technology, rather than own, which leads to greater profitability and sustainability. Ultimately the business ‘accesses’ the technology for the optimum time before it starts to hinder on performance and consequently competitiveness.

It’s a revolutionary shift from ‘Make-Take-Dispose’ to ‘Make-Take-Reuse-Recycle’. We work with over 3000 customers, who have made this shift and are enjoying the benefits.

If you want a sustainable IT solution, speak to us and we can show you a demo of how we make all of this a reality.

Why is technology so important to a prosperous future?

Businesses that fail to adopt new technologies risk getting left behind. The best businesses ebb and flow with technology, immersing it into every part of their organizations.

The advancement of technology is mesmerising, and it only seems to be speeding up. Smart businesses recognise they need to adopt new technologies to compete, leading to a proliferation of equipment.

As a society, we only have access to a finite amount of resources, and to manufacture just one desktop computer and monitor takes roughly 530lb (240kg) of fossil fuel, 48lb (21.8kg) of chemicals, and 1.5 tonnes of water. Despite this resource-hungry process, the United Nations estimates that we discard 20-50 million metric tonnes of e-waste every year!

While there is no doubt that more needs to be done to recycle IT hardware responsibly, it’s also vital that we extract as much value as possible before sending equipment to its grave. 3 Step IT is a firm believer that one man’s trash is another man’s gold.

98% of devices collected from 3 Step IT customers in 2017 were rehomed, achieving responsible environmental practices. In addition, data security best practices were achieved with Blancco Data Eraser solutions.

Customers of 3 Step IT and Blancco can embrace new technologies quickly and easily, while retaining peace of mind that their data is protected.

How do bancco and 3 Step IT work together?

3 Step IT and Blancco were both founded in the year of 1997. That year, the companies built a partnership to securely erase IT assets at end-of-life.

The combination of 3 Step IT’s lifecycle management solution and Blancco’s data erasure solution enables businesses to succeed in a Circular Economy—even before the term was coined and popularised.

What is the circular economy, and how do we make it a reality?

Traditionally, IT equipment goes through three lifecycle stages: Make – Take – Dispose; however, this isn’t a sustainable option, both economically and environmentally. 3 Step IT reimagined this process and developed a circular solution comprised of four lifecycle steps: Make – Take – Reuse – Recycle.

3 Step IT makes it easy for businesses to refresh their technology; simply, securely, cost effectively and in a socially-responsible manner. They also remove the admin burden of procuring new IT and managing that IT throughout the entire life cycle.

We’re proud of our 20-year relationship with Blancco. Together we are making the Circular Economy ‘real’ by delivering tangible benefits for customers and society. Our combined win/win proposition is a testament to the efforts we have made this together, to help businesses embrace technology in a sustainable way while also achieving data protection best practices.

– Jason Skidmore, UK Managing Director

Coinciding with the rapid development of technology has been the proliferation of data. Organizations now have so much data that they’re having trouble managing and storing it all. At the same time, all companies must demonstrate customer data protection and comply with regulations regarding this data.

Blancco helps businesses improve their data hygiene, data security and data sanitization practices with secure, certified data erasure solutions across the entire data lifecycle—whether data is active or has reached end-of-life. In addition, Blancco’s tamper- proof audit trail that makes safeguarding data a simpler process.

Blancco is happy to be part of making the Circular Economy a reality. For two decades, we’ve been working with 3 Step IT to make responsible, secure IT asset recycling and resale possible. As technology continues to evolve, so will our partnership and our solutions.

– Richard Stiennon, CSO, Blancco

Together, 3 Step IT and Blannco’s solutions allow businesses to thrive in a Circular Economy. Get in touch to find out how you can make the Circular Economy work for your business.