Old business technology being put into a recycling bin

IT Goes Green: Responsible Computer Recycling and IT Disposal

18 Apr 2016 by Shay Moser

It’s commonly known that you can plant trees, cut back from fossil fuels, clean up neighborhoods and push for more advanced environmental laws in order to “go green”. But what is your organization doing with IT waste when hardware reaches its end of life?

The IT disposal cleanup story

Technology assets can create a trail of waste just as harmful to the environment as any non-biodegradable products. Many electronic devices, including computers, printers and cell phones, contain toxic heavy metals such as lead, mercury and cadmium. According to Earth911, it’s estimated that nearly 40 million tons of e-waste is generated every year, and only 12.5% of that is recycled, with the majority ending up in hazardous landfills in developing countries.

Of course, many businesses want to do the right eco-conscious tech thing, but creating an initiative as extensive as Apple’s Apps for Earth is not practical for every company. And it’s definitely not advisable to put electronic items on the curb for pickup. Organizations with used or outdated tech equipment filled with sensitive data need an effective and safe computer recycling and IT disposal solution to make sure their assets end up in the best hands.

The best option for tech and computer disposal

As part of Insight’s asset disposition program, we help companies repurpose old and used tech equipment safely through data erasure and IT asset remarketing or disposal. It helps organizations protect the environment by following disposal guidelines mandated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) — all while maximizing the return on their IT investments.

“We take all IT assets,” explains Lisa Czarnecki, an IT lifecycle services specialist at Insight. “That includes traditional desktops, PCs, laptops, servers, routers, switches, mobile phones, tablets, printers and fax machines,” she describes. Our nationwide services include dock-to-dock or inside pickups.

Insight has a longstanding partnership with a disposal vender, which operates two secure  processing locations with a global reach. Insight’s services include a rigorous review of all IT assets to determine whether to remarket, recycle or redeploy the hardware based on business rules provided by our clients. Each asset receives a full physical and technical audit and asset level tracking in a custom disposition web portal.

Next, all serial numbers are tracked on all data-bearing devices and client IDs/assets tags are recorded and removed. Then each hard drive undergoes a Department of Defense 5220.22M drive wipe, a triple iteration, and multiple-overwrite process with random characters that renders the data completely erased and unrecoverable. Clients are provided a certificate of erasure and, if a drive cannot be erased, it is destroyed.

This high-level data erasure process has far-reaching privacy and security implications since some of our clients’ IT assets contain secure information ─ including valuable business data and private client account records, some of which are in industries like healthcare and banking. Our services are eStewards, R2, ISO, OHSAH and HIPAA certified.

Responsible IT and computer recycling

Equipment that doesn’t contain a hard drive but still has any information stored on it will be cleared and reprogrammed to a factory setting, regardless of how it is disposed. “Though some copiers and other business equipment doesn’t have a hard drive, they may still store email addresses and other confidential information that needs to be removed prior to remarketing or deploying,” says Czarnecki.

If IT assets can be remarketed, they are either repaired or sold “as is”. We work with a network of known global buyers to obtain the highest rate of return for clients.

Most technology can be recycled, Czarnecki says, particularly entire computers, including the glass in the monitor, the plastic in the case, the copper in the power supply and the precious metals used in the circuitry. “If it’s determined an asset that has no value or is at the end of the IT lifecycle, it’s completely dissembled into salvageable plastic, glass and metal components and sent downstream to reputable recycling vendors and refineries,” she says. “And then clients are given a certificate of recycling.” Insight is a zero landfill recycler.

Items that are marked for redeployment, after they have been audited and wiped, are shipped directly to the new end user, which may be the original lessor of the equipment or another designated party. In some instances, clients use redeployment for donation purposes, sending the equipment to churches, schools and other community organizations identified by the client, further extending the IT lifecycle

Eco-friendly and EPA-compliant

Through our customized IT disposition website, customers can access all information regarding the computer recycling or IT disposal process, including serial number/asset tag numbers, shipment records, certificates of destruction and certificates of erasure. Customers also can access a disposition request feature to order nationwide pick-ups.

Czarnecki points out that Insight’s asset recovery protocol strictly adheres to EPA regulations and guidelines that mandate safe disposition and quality-control compliance.

“We follow all ISO-certified procedures,” she says. In addition, Insight’s partner holds several recycling and refurbishing industry certifications, such as R2 and eStewards, which ensure tech-asset disposition is green, legal and secure. “Our clients can be guaranteed that any equipment will be disposed of in the United States,” says Czarnecki. “It will not be shipped overseas or dumped in a landfill.”

Whether you use Insight for your tech disposal and computer recycling, you can do the eco-conscious thing effectively and safely. The Telecommunications Industry Association provides this website to you for finding IT disposition and recycling centers near you. Otherwise, contact us at 1.800.INSIGHT. 

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