3 Things You Need to be Doing Before You Recycle Your Electronics

Posted by on August 8, 2017

At this point, everyone knows they can’t just toss their old electronics into the garbage can. The components these devices are made of require comprehensive dismantling and disassembly at a professional recycling center, and these devices may contain hazardous materials that could be toxic to the environment if disposed improperly. So while most know what not to do, does anyone know what how to best manage computer recycling in a secure and responsible manner?

For any business today computer data protection solutions are a concern. Therefore, it’s common to have some hesitation when choosing what to do with your electronics once they become obsolete. Here are some smart tips for recycling your e-waste in a manner that will protect your data as well as the environment.

First and foremost, destroy and/or remove all data.

The first thing you should do is erase and remove the data. There are several resources online which can help erase data from various smartphones. Search for your specific model and try to use the manufacturer’s recommendation for data removal. Removing the data from a smartphone is usually pretty simple, however when it comes to other types of electronics the process can be more complex.

Overwriting or clearing data from a hard drive usually appears to be a straightforward process. You download a data wipe software, wipe the hard drive and the data is erased. However, understanding the reliability and security of the process will take more than that, and hard drive wiping is 99.99% effective only when done correctly. This is why most enterprise companies rely on a third-party IT asset disposition vendor who specialize in data destruction services to physically destroy and/or wipe the data stored on retired hard drives. These vendors can offer varying services both on-site at your office or back at their facility.

Hard drive wiping and data removal is often a customized service. There are various methods for data destruction, some allowing the hard drive to be reused and some rendering the device obsolete. The decision of which method to utilize can be based on different circumstances including what type of storage media you’re working with. There is a detailed overview of this process in a previous blog post regarding data destruction methods for more information.

Always research the recycler.

When researching companies for e-waste disposal, it may be best to start with a simple phone call to understand their process. If their site is close by, visiting them in person is always recommended to see their operations firsthand. Most large recyclers will have on-site shredders, and conveyor belts to help move and separate shredded material, preparing it to be transported to smelters and refineries.

If equipment is being resold be sure to grasp a full understanding of their ecommerce and resale operation to ensure no unauthorized items are being resold. It might be a good idea to also review their channels for resale and read through their customer feedback.

Document the recycling process.

If you are a business, make sure you will receive certificates and all other required documentation for your data security and corporate sustainability reports. Some IT asset disposition companies offer IT asset management and tracking features which enable you to know exactly where each device is at any point throughout the disposal process. This can help you manage inventory and watch specific items closely as needed.

Putting more effort into understanding this process and doing your due diligence can help ensure environmental and data protection. Data breaches are happening every day and becoming more sophisticated in their approach, and so must we.

Check out our white paper for more information regarding data destruction and IT asset disposition.

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