For Earth Day, Growing Cisco Recycling Program Raises Incentives

More than 800 partners have earned Cisco's sustainbility specialization.

James Anderson, Senior News Editor

April 22, 2024

4 Min Read
Cisco recycling program

Cisco anticipates a massive increase in equipment returns from customers as more and more partners embrace its Environmental Sustainability Specialization.

The IT vendor announced on Monday (Earth Day) that it expects a 340% increase in used hardware that it re-releases or recycles. The company aims to incorporate circular design principles into all of its products by 2025. These principles revolve around increasing the life cycle of products and packaging, and their modularity, and generally "designing waste out of" the portfolio.

Channel partners increasingly are working with Cisco to make this possible, said Andrew Sage, vice president of global distribution and SMB sales. Sage said more than 800 partners now hold the Environmental Sustainability Specialization. Some partners, like Orange Business, have mandated that a significant portion of what they buy be re-manufactured.

In the meantime, Cisco has raised its takeback incentive from 7% to 9% for the fourth quarter of its fiscal year, which ends July 27. Sage said the increase helps the vendor and its partners match skyrocketing customer demand for energy-efficient and recyclable solutions.

"We absolutely see this as not only an obligation but an opportunity. And we're trying to educate the partners as well that sometimes you will feel obligated to do these things, but please always look at it as an opportunity," Sage told Channel Futures.

Cisco conducts a free takeback of the technology and then uses it in one of two different ways.

First, the equipment may go into the Cisco Refresh program that keeps up-to-date hardware in the portfolio.

Cisco's Andrew Sage

"We put it back on our price list. We put partner incentives behind it; we pay our field on it. It gets a true second life if it's still pretty current," he said.

If the hardware is too old, Cisco turns to its recycling partners and attempts to reuse as much of the equipment as possible.

Cisco Recycling Program Sees Demand

Sage said sustainability is playing a bigger role than ever in winning RFPs for partners — and losing them.

Many businesses have embarked on their own journeys to net-zero and want to know how technology fits into that equation. Channel Futures has reported on the increased value investors are putting on ESG (environmental, social and governance) ratings. They themselves are winning or losing RFPs based on their sustainability scores.

"At the end of the day, everybody is thinking more about the environment, and they want to see less of this stuff end up in a landfill. Customers are asking their partners to dispose of the equipment in a responsible way. They're asking their partners to tell them where it went – was it recycled, or was it reused – as part of these customers' sustainability strategies," he said.

And if the market isn't prompting more sustainability, governments are. Sage said many non-U.S. customers are facing regulatory pressure.

As a result, Sage said partners should expect their customers to ask them questions about things like the product carbon footprint (PCF) of what they're selling.

"I think partners should be prepared at a very basic level to be very specifically asked for the energy consumption of the products that they are selling them," he said. "I think they should be ready to answer it in relative terms as well. Here's how much energy they will consume. And here's how much less or more it was than what you had before."

Cisco Sustainability Estimator

Cisco in November launched its Sustainability Estimator, a module within the Cisco Partner Experience Platform (PXP) that gives partners a view of how much money and energy their customers can save if they upgrade their infrastructure.

Sage said Cisco is now on the third iteration of the Estimator, having gathered feedback from some 300 partners that have been using it. Sage said the tool has evolved to let partners actually download information rather than receive a report from Cisco. That shift led to an uptick in adoption, he said.

"Partners wanted to take the data and build it into their own offerings and manipulate it and change how it was configured or change how it was communicated," Sage said.

The next version will incorporate "consolidation logic," which gives insights on how customers can build their networks to be more efficient – rather than only focusing on the impact of upgrades and replacements.

Sage wrote more in an Earth Day blog for Cisco.

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About the Author(s)

James Anderson

Senior News Editor, Channel Futures

James Anderson is a news editor for Channel Futures. He interned with Informa while working toward his degree in journalism from Arizona State University, then joined the company after graduating. He writes about SD-WAN, telecom and cablecos, technology services distributors and carriers. He has served as a moderator for multiple panels at Channel Partners events.

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