Three Questions to Ask Before Recycling Electronics

You know the saying “out with the old, in with the new?” That gets a little complicated when it applies to IT equipment. If your organization has recently done a hardware refresh or updated a fleet of laptops, you might find that you now have a storage or conference room full of out-of-use electronic equipment. How you dispose of that surplus equipment could have negative or positive consequences for your organization.

To ensure your organization does not fall victim to negative consequences like data breaches, fines, sanctions, or bad publicity, care must be taken that IT assets are disposed of in a secure way that (1) complies with electronic waste (e-waste) disposal and data security and privacy laws, (2) is environmentally friendly and (3) offers a possibility of value recovery.

Before you dispose of any IT assets, you should ask the following three questions:

1. Are you complying with e-waste disposal, data security, and privacy laws?

Currently, 25 states have laws covering the disposal of e-waste. Violating these e-waste laws could lead to sanctions and fines. Depending on where you are located, the negligent disposal of even a single P.C. could subject you to over $10,000 in fines.

Additionally, some of your equipment likely contains confidential, personal, or sensitive data of your customers, clients, employees, and business partners. Protecting this information is paramount. Disposing of equipment in an unsafe manner can lead to data breaches or violate data security and privacy laws, which can hurt a company's reputation, lead to sanctions and fines, and be costly to remedy. For example, in 2017, a ShopRite pharmacy in New Jersey disposed of an electronic signature device without ensuring the data on it was permanently deleted. Unfortunately, the device contained personal information about its customers such as names, dates of birth, phone numbers, and medication names. Over 9,000 individuals were impacted by the careless disposal of that one device.

According to IBM, the average cost of a data breach is $3.86 million. For healthcare organizations, the cost is even higher. In 2020, 28% of data breaches involved small businesses.

Using a reputable IT asset disposition partner that understands e-waste laws and adheres to strict data security standards will ensure that your IT equipment is disposed of in a compliant manner. Consequently, your organization can mitigate the risk of any legal violations or data breaches and the fallout that results from them.

2. Is your method of disposal environmentally friendly?

End-of-life electronics become e-waste. According to the United Nations, the world produces as much as 50 million tons of e-waste every year, which is an amount that weighs more than all the commercial airliners ever made. Only 20% of that is formally recycled. At this rate, global e-waste production is on track to reach 120 million tons by the year 2050. This is problematic because electronic products can contain toxic substances such as lead, mercury, and cadmium. Equipment that is improperly disposed of can contribute to air and water pollution, end up in landfill, and cause other harmful effects on the environment.

Recycling and reusing products reduces the production of e-waste. Additionally, many of the materials used in making electronic products can be recovered and reused, including plastics, glass, and metal. According to the EPA, for every million cell phones that are recycled, 35 thousand pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold and 33 pounds of palladium can be recovered. Reusing these materials will reduce greenhouse gas emissions that result from the manufacturing process for new equipment using virgin materials. It also helps conserve the world’s natural resources.

Using an IT asset disposition partner that is environmentally responsible will ensure that your equipment is reused or recycled in a safe and environmentally friendly manner.

3. Does the equipment have any value?

Some electronics have residual value. This is the estimated amount that you would earn by reselling or recycling the equipment, after any disposal costs. Using reputable vendors to dispose of your equipment can ensure that your equipment is properly evaluated for residual value and can put money back in your budget.

For example, when IT equipment is disposed with Dispoteca, nine times out of ten, you will receive money back at the end of the transaction. However, IT equipment depreciates quickly, so you must act fast to maximize your value recovery.

If you are unsure of how to answer any of these three critical questions, then you should consider working with a reputable partner to handle the recycling or reselling of your used computer equipment. For example, Dispoteca simplifies the disposition process for organizations by managing each step to optimize for value recovery and security requirements. Dispoteca helps organizations of all sizes securely dispose of computer equipment in a cost efficient and environmentally friendly way.

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