Nowadays, it seems like technology changes at the speed of light, which means a lot of electronic equipment will become obsolete well before they reaches the end of their usefulness—many times within months of a product hitting the market.
With this rapid advancement of technology, IT asset disposition has become an imperative, especially for larger organizations, because they not only face the obligation to purchase new IT equipment and manage them but also figure out how to retire the electronic devices effectively.
Those organizations have to also weigh the consequences if the e-waste they produce isn’t properly handled. Consider these facts: A recent report from United Nations University reveals that the planet produced 41.8 million metric tons of e-waste in 2014 — an amount that could fill a line of 18-wheelers more than halfway around the earth.
Consider this as well: ITAD is more than just recycling and getting rid of old electronics. A corporate data breach might cost an organization more than anything else. Such a loss is estimated to be nearly $4 million, on average. These facts should make any reputable organization think twice about how to handle e-waste.
Because IT asset disposition ensures the proper and safe disposal of electronic waste, there are some industry best practices to follow when implementing an asset management program for your organization. Here are five of them.
It should always be a company’s priority to make sure that no electronics that get retired for an asset management program end up exported to a country with weak environmental laws. Additionally, no company wants the EPA breathing down its neck for causing some harm to the environment because electronic equipment ended up in a landfill. E-waste also could contain toxic materials such as lead, cadmium and mercury that need to be disposed of properly. That’s why an organization’s IT asset disposition program should have a written plan that complies with the local, regional and national environmental regulations.
Because devices such as computers, servers and cell phones all contain personal information, data security should always be a concern. For example, an organization doing business related to healthcare has to consider important regulations such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability (HIPAA) and Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) laws.
According to those regulations, simply wiping a hard disk or a series of portable storage drives is not enough since the data is still recoverable. The drive itself would need to be replaced and the data destruction would be need to be properly documented so that data and the identities, individual rights and medical information of patients are protected.
The NIST (the National Institute for Standards and Technology) Special Publication 800-88 has become the go-to data erasure standard in the United States, so all hard drive destruction should follow this protocol at the minimum.
Reselling IT equipment can pose a challenge to a large organization that needs to recover maximum value from their surplus equipment. A common practice is to put the used electronic equipment up for auction. However, there isn’t always a guarantee that the buyer of that equipment will handle it properly. Some buyers are only interested in taking the gold or silver out the electronic equipment. An effective IT asset disposition program should take care of all these issues—all the while protecting your organization from any exposure to a data breach or negative impact on the environment.
We can’t say this enough, but upcycling is the best strategy when it comes to e-waste disposal. Upcycling not only ensures that toxic materials are kept out of landfills but, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, it is responsible for more than 50,000 tons of materials being recovered from electronics annually.
DoSomething.org claims “a large number of what is labeled as ‘e-waste’ is actually not waste at all, but rather whole electronic equipment or parts that are readily marketable for reuse or can be recycled for materials recovery.” Incorporating upcycling into your IT asset disposition program will make sure that part happens.
IT Asset Disposition Program Vendors
In order to have a successful IT asset disposition program, it is important to know how to select the best third-party partner. This choice is not like that of a commodity. A cheap offer might cost you more than you’re saving, so it is always a best practice to choose a vendor that adheres to the best practices of the ITAD industry. The provider should be in accordance with the leading industry standards, which means following the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) certifications that focus on quality (9001) and environmental impacts (14001).
Surplus Service is a San Francisco, CA Bay Area-based award-winning e-waste management business that specializes in ITAD, medical recycling, electronic liquidation, reverse logistics and data eradication. As the No. 1 electronic reuse and recycling leader, our goal is to provide eco-friendly solutions that lead to the reuse of electronics rather than just having them recycled or end up in a landfill. To learn more about us, call one of our e-waste recycling specialists at (510) 226-0600 or email us at Info@SurplusService.com.