Living in the 21st century and at the peak of technological advancements, it is not surprising to see that nearly every business out there, from those on the micro-scale to corporate powerhouses, are adopting cutting-edge technology to make carrying out business easier, faster and more efficient.
With the rapid advancement in technology, products don’t often have a very long lifespan, with some devices only lasting a few months to
a few years. Irrespective of what your business’ requirements for digital equipment is, it is likely that you will need to phase out your outdated hardware and digital content at regular intervals.
About 25 states in the US have legislation and laws in place to ensure that you recycle your electronic waste. Apart from the drastic environmental impact that you’ll have by being lax about recycling electronics, you should also be concerned about sensitive proprietary data that may be housed on your devices that could be susceptible to data leaks and security breaches if not dealt with properly, making e-waste recycling not only a duty towards society and the environment, but also a security measure to protect your business from untoward incidents like those described above.
In order to make sure you’re getting the best e-waste recycling services for your money, we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 most important questions you should be asking your e-waste recycler before signing an agreement or a contract.
1. What services do you offer as part of your disposal and recycling program?
You need to ensure that the e-waste recycler you’re contracting with offers the following services as part of their program, in order to ensure efficient disposal and recycling:
·They should not only be able to recycle hardware like computers, tablets, and smartphones but also peripherals like flash drives, hard drives, films, and ID cards.
·They should have a system in place that logs and tracks the material and data that is sent for off-site disposal.
·There must be a well-documented system that logs the chain of custody.
·The data must be encrypted and then destroyed in accordance with industry standards to avoid leaking of sensitive data.
·For very sensitive data, they must offer on-site destruction and erasure.
2. Do your services comply with industry standards?
E-waste can be very destructive to the environment due to all the potentially hazardous chemicals and substances that go into manufacturing these devices, and for this reason, there are regulations in place to make sure that they are disposed-off safely without leaving too much of a
negative footprint on the environment.
The firm that you are considering contracting with for your e-waste disposal needs should be compliant with the e-Stewards® recycling standards which have certain stringent requirements such as:
·The e-waste must never be incinerated, burnt, sent to a landfill, or exported and the firm must provide assurance of this.
·Data must be destroyed by following procedures advised by the standard.
3. How do you salvage electronics that
can be reused?
Even though your hardware might be outdated, it can still serve some purpose for other individuals or organizations who’d be willing to buy the equipment off of you. For this reason, you need to find a recycler who would be able to:
·Ascertain a reasonable value for your reusable electronics.
·Destroy all data and restore the devices to factory settings prior to putting them on the market.
·Completely destroy unsalvageable electronics by using methods that have the least environmental impact.
4.How do you handle cathode ray tubes?
Cathode ray tubes or CRTs are components used primarily in older display technologies in devices like televisions and computers. CRT glass composes over 50% of the weight of some older computer monitors. This CRT glass can have very high lead concentrations, especially the coatings applied to glass. These components can be particularly harmful to the environment if handled improperly.
Under no circumstances should they be sending these components to landfills, because this is against e-Stewards® standards. Ideally, they should be processing CRTs in recycling systems specifically designed for these components that feature vacuum-sealed, HEPA air-filtered chambers that minimize negative environmental impact substantially.
They must also be equipped to perform pre-recycling procedures like wet-scrubbing and ultrasonic cleaning to remove the harmful lead-dense coatings on the CRT glass so as to make them recyclable and reusable by CRT manufacturers.
5. What measures do you take to limit the liability of your clients?
Certain regulations and legislation can hold you responsible for an improper disposal job, which could have serious legal consequences. It is very important that you ensure that your e-waste recycler takes adequate measures to limit your liability as a client. A good e-waste recycler will provide you with certificates of destruction and recycling that certify that you’ve taken necessary steps to recycle your assets.
6. How do you ensure data security?
With all financial transactions, research, and other sensitive data being housed digitally in today’s fast-paced world, you cannot afford to neglect your data security, as this could lead to disastrous circumstances such as the facilitation of fraud, loss of intellectual property and trade secrets. Therefore, your e-waste recycler should be able to guarantee that their data erasure and destruction procedures make the data unrecoverable. Most good recyclers give you the option to have them physically destroy the equipment to protect sensitive data. You must have your hard drives and obsolete servers backed up and then encrypted before carrying out data destruction procedures. This ensures that none of your sensitive data is left out in the open.
7. Are you able to provide industry-specific references?
E-waste management procedures differ from industry to industry. For example, a recycler would handle e-waste from financial institutions differently from the way they handle waste from hospitals. A good recycler will probably have a good working relationship with its clients from a variety of sectors and should be able to provide references to them so they can vouch for them.
8. Are you an e-Stewards® certified enterprise?
The “e-Stewards®-Standard-for-Responsible-Recycling-and-Reuse-of-Electronic-Equipment©” is a set of requirements that are followed industry-wide and its certification program assures the highest quality of electronic waste management. It also complies with all regulations of the ISO 14001 standard making it a very stringent process that ensures that the quality of service is top-notch.
If the recycler is an e-Stewards-certified-enterprise, it means that they also have ISO 14001 accreditation. They certify that the processes that the recycler uses are in line with international waste trade laws such as the Basel Convention and OECD treaties.
They also ensure that your data security is of paramount importance and the procedures they recommend are compliant with the NIST guidelines. Another important feature of their certification is that they ensure the best occupational health and safety practices and pay attention to social accountability values.
9.What is the minimum and maximum volume of waste you will recycle?
Depending on how small or how large the operations of your business might be and your specific requirement for electronics, you might need to confirm the volume that the recycler will be willing to accept. Some recyclers will only cater to businesses with small volumes of waste, while others will only cater to those with tons of waste to be recycled and disposed of.
However, there are some electronic waste disposal firms that provide customized solutions and will accept volumes ranging from a single device to several tons of electronic waste. It’s important that you find a firm that will cater to your specific volume requirements.
10.What types of devices do you accept?
This is an important question for you to be asking your recycler, especially if your industry uses specialized equipment that contains components that need to be handled with extra care. For example, a financial institution should prioritise data privacy and choose a firm that offers specialized services for the banking industry, while hospitals and other businesses that employ sensitive medical equipment such as CT scanners and MRI scanners, which contain components that can be very harmful to the environment, should choose a recycler that specializes in the disposal of these units. Some firms also specialize in recycling and remarketing expensive equipment that you might want to sell instead of destroying them to save yourself a good amount of money.
These are the most important questions that you should be asking your e-waste recycler. However, you might still want to have an expert carry out an assessment of your waste situation and ascertain which waste disposal and recycling service you should opt for, to get the best value for your money and assets. Make sure you choose a firm that is reputed and is accredited with the standards talked about above. We hope this article will help you make an informed decision about choosing your e-waste recycler.