Today is America Recycles Day, which is an appropriate time to address the kind of trash that’s been making a lot of headlines lately – electronic waste.
We’ve compiled helpful hints and resources so you can be sure you’re disposing of your obsolete computers, IT equipment, cell phones, monitors, televisions and other electronics in a legal and environmentally responsible manner – both at work and at home.
IT departments should have a plan in place for dealing with e-waste. After all, you can only stockpile old monitors, towers, routers, servers and switches for so long until it’s taking up space and wasting resources.
IT Asset Management Best Practices
The Investment Recovery Association (IRA) is a membership organization for professionals who deal with surplus assets. IRA recommends considering the “Seven R’s” when deciding how to dispose of IT assets: reuse, recycle, recondition, resell, reclaim, return or remove. It’s also helpful to consider donating surplus assets that are still in working condition to schools or non-profits that need them.
While handling surplus IT equipment is often seen as a cost to the company, IRA shows that it’s entirely possible to save money. Companies with investment recovery departments save an average of $8 million a year; and while this does depend on the size of the company and number of locations, it drives home the point that IT asset management doesn’t always have to cost money. There are IT hardware providers like CXtec that provide complete IT asset management services, including recycling old equipment and buying back used equipment that still has value (disclaimer: CXtec is an event sponsor of NY Tech Summit).
National and State Regulations
Regulations vary state to state, but we found a great resource from the National Electronics Recycling Infrastructure Clearinghouse.
The National Association for Information Destruction, Inc. (NAID) is an international resource for companies that provide data destruction services. Among other facts on data destruction, NAID stresses that “every business has information that requires destruction.” Whether IT staff performs data destruction processes or pays for data destruction services, it’s important to note the legal ramifications of failing to destroy data properly.
Don’t forget the most basic challenges in getting rid of your e-waste. Do you have to sort and pack equipment? Ship it? Provide an estimate of what kind and the amount of equipment you have? The more information you have from a recycler before starting the process, the better.
Assuming you have considerably less e-waste at home, there are various options for getting rid of your old cell phones, televisions and PCs. Call2Recycle can tell you where to drop off those old cell phones, or you can donate them to organizations such as the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Cell Phones for Soldiers. The EPA also has resources for where you can donate your old electronics , including information on retailers like Best Buy and Office Depot.
There are numerous routes to take when getting rid of electronics and IT equipment you no longer use. While it does take a certain amount of research and planning, it is worth saving yourself from both legal and environmental ramifications to make sure your e-waste doesn’t end up in a landfill.