You can significantly boost the value of your electronic waste. How you treat assets before they ship can have a big impact on returns.
The short of it: Don’t treat your end-of-life (EOL) equipment like trash. To increase IT asset value recovery, a few simple steps can turn up the resale value of the electronics that your business no longer needs.
While it’s the job of your electronics recycling partner to determine the most optimal path for your retired IT equipment, you have an important role to play, too. The actions you take before your assets reach the recycling facility can have a significant impact on returns.
But before we get to the steps, let’s define e-waste so we’re all on the same page about what’s involved in IT asset recovery.
What is electronic waste?
E waste comprises electronic devices that are unwanted, broken, or at the end of their useful life. It also includes parts that are used for the manufacturing or repair of those electronic devices. If an item is electronic or if a component or metal was used to manufacture the electronic device, they will all at some point become e-waste.
This includes, for example: Modems, switches, network gear, mobile devices and wearables, hard drives, circuit boards and components, metals and wire, network and data center equipment, laptops, monitors, desktops, monitors, peripherals, specialty electronics, and batteries.
6 ways to increase IT asset value recovery
If you run a business, we hardly need to tell you e waste is inevitable. The question is how you make the most out of your electronic graveyard? Consider the following ways to increase IT asset value recovery:
1. Accumulate — to a point
If at all possible, avoid shipping small volumes to your recycler of choice. We sometimes see businesses ship two pallets here, one pallet there. This weekly “drip” approach may be necessary if storage limitations leave you no other choice, but if you do have enough room to hold off on shipping, it’s wise to do so until volumes have accumulated. Shipping larger volumes, even a truckload, will significantly reduce both freight costs and carbon emissions.
At the same time, beware of sitting on assets for too long. Since they depreciate with age, holding on to out-of-service equipment or equipment for surplus requirements could take a bite out of your returns. Consider scouring warehouse shelves and back rooms for unused equipment to build both volume and tap into potential value.
2. Don’t break it
Although a device may have served its course at your business, the next phase is just beginning. So, as easy as it is to treat e-waste like garbage, mindlessly tossing laptops into a gaylord box for shipping or stacking them in a backroom for months on end, bear in mind damaged equipment is much harder to remarket.
A broken laptop screen can be removed and the remainder of the device put up for sale, but the resale value inevitably plummets. To help our customers avoid common packaging mistakes, we send out detailed instructions that will ensure your equipment arrives in good shape. (Tip: you can’t use too much shrink wrap)
3. Ship complete sets whenever possible
The significance of shipping complete sets is especially true for high-end test and lab equipment. Specialty electronics are in high demand in resale markets, but missing accessories negatively affect yield. This is a common issue that you can help resolve — even if it takes some work — by keeping close track of all parts while in use. An IT asset that has been tracked through an inventory system since its service date may generate a higher value on the used market for IT goods. To maximize the value of specialty equipment, include everything from manuals and probes to boards and modules.
For example, being able to include calibration documentation can significantly boost the resale value. When such documentation is lacking, the buyer may request the recycler to send the equipment for calibration, a detour that takes $1,000 or more off the price tag.
4. Avoid degaussing
Many companies destroy discarded hard drives on-site. The process commonly used — degaussing — renders the drives unusable and, consequently, bad for recouping value in secondary markets. The urge to be cautious is understandable, but if increasing IT asset value recovery is the goal, entrust the task of data wiping and sanitization to your electronics recycler. An R2-certified recycler provides verification that any data has been made irrecoverable. The difference in value between a degaussed and sanitized drive is pennies versus dollars.
5. Make destruction the last option
There are times when destruction of IT assets is warranted. Proprietary and top-secret items may need to be destroyed — and by destroyed, we mean pulverized or shredded to their finest commodities possible. The process, however, leaves the commodity unclean; plastics mix with pieces of circuit boards and metals.
If we, on the other hand, recycle an item without running it through a shredder, it can be dismantled in a manner that keeps commodities clean enough to be sent downstream for smelting and refinery. The latter means you increase IT asset value recovery, while the former entails a charge for destruction. Ultimately, the nature of your assets will determine which option makes the most sense.
6. Send only e-waste
Finally, send only e waste. This may seem obvious but you’d be surprised how often packaging materials, furniture, chemicals, and pure garbage mix in with the electronics. Since sending such items results in an additional charge, it’s not the recipe for increasing IT asset value recovery.
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