You may be all too familiar with the storage room full of antiquated, dusty electronics. We can sometimes forget about proper e-waste disposal, but it’s crucial for the environment. As of now, the US doesn’t have a federal regulation for electronic waste (otherwise known as e-waste), but several states, such as California, New York, and Texas passed legislation regarding proper disposal. Rather than waiting on others, it’s in your best interest to pursue responsible e-waste disposal and recycling to prevent potential hazardous effects.
Benefits of E-Waste Disposal and Recycling
Businesses depend on technology and electronics more than ever, which is why we have the constant pressure to upgrade our electronics regularly. While technology opened the door for many unprecedented opportunities, it also welcomed a societal issue of e-waste. Having a proper protocol for disposal will positively impact overfilled landfills and also prevent possible data breaches.
The process of disposal includes reselling, renewing, recycling, salvaging, and much more. Best case scenario, your electronics may be completely reusable by another user, which means you can easily earn money selling your old equipment. Electronics also contain valuable components that can be recycled and reclaimed, such as gold, copper, and silver. By salvaging these elements, you’re decreasing the demand for mining ores, which has considerably harmful effects on our planet.
What are the Steps for Disposal?
1. Backup your Data and Destroy It
The first step should always thorough data removal because data breaches are no joke. You’d be surprised how much sensitive data could be recovered from “destroyed” electronics, such as employee information, finances, and customer data. You can back up your data by using an external storage like a hard drive or other services, such as online backup or cloud storage. Also, remember you can remove the storage device from the PC or laptop (if possible) and use it again in your next device.
For thorough and secure data erasure, you can utilize multiple steps for peace of mind. Both built-in firmware and downloadable software can help you overwrite drives completely or partially depending on your needs. There are also third-party services, such as Jetico and Blancco that specializes in enterprise data security software. Finally, you can physically destroy the drives yourself or outsource this to e-waste companies.
2. If Possible, Resell or Donate
We commonly associate e-waste with some an electronic that is at its “end of life” or near it. Even so, one man’s e-waste is another man’s treasure—it holds even truer especially with more modern electronics. Hardware advancements have plateaued recently, with upgrades becoming more and more indistinguishable. Therefore, your first course of action should be trying to resell, either to the original manufacturer or other buyers.
Manufacturers, such as Apple, Dell, and Acer all have buyback programs that credits you toward another purchase. Online marketplaces like Gazelle, Facebook Marketplace, EBay, and Decluttr can also be used to sell your old electronics with ease. If you don’t want to sell, another option is to donate to charities and organizations that will provide refurbished devices to developing communities.
3. Recycle Responsibly using Certified Recyclers
The final alternative for your electronics that have truly come to their end is to recycle. In the US, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) encourages people to dispose e-waste using certified electronic recyclers. This includes original manufacturers (Apple, Dell, Acer), electronic retail stores (Best Buy or Staples), and e-waste pickup services (4th Bin and Electronic Recyclers International). The latter is especially useful if your business accrued a hefty pile of electronic waste that cannot be dropped off. Another option is to participate in local e-waste collection events, where you can drop off your e-waste and other hazardous waste.
The detrimental effects of improper e-waste disposal is evident—electronic wastelands and landfills are not only directly hazardous to the soil, but constant mass production of electronics contributes to pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Taking the extra steps to contemplate reusing, reselling, or recycling will go a long way in promoting a healthy environment.