If the pandemic threw off your efforts to recycle electronics, market dynamics make this the ideal time to regroup. 

Most businesses want to recycle electronics but following through is not always as easy. Employee turnover and other issues can make the company lose focus on the effort to recycle electronics.

This has been particularly true during the pandemic when staff sometimes had to be furloughed to save the bottom line. But as business is picking up, it’s time to regroup. 

Interestingly, the supply chain disruptions and chip shortages in the wake of Covid-19 restrictions have fueled demand for refurbished and remarketed electronics. As consumers have struggled to find brand-new products like laptops, processor chips, memory cards, and other electronics, interest in resale markets has increased. That alone is a good argument for taking a renewed look at how you recycle electronics. 

We spent a lot of time during the pandemic educating companies about electronic recycling. Here are some of the key messages that we try to get across in response to common questions about why it makes sense to recycle electronics.

Seek to recycle electronics — or improve current practices? Read this. 

Data security: You cannot afford to deprioritize it

No recent events underscore the significance of correct IT asset disposition than the Morgan Stanley data breach. News of the tentative settlement of the class-action lawsuit hit the headlines just the other day. In addition to the confidential terms of the agreement, the financial services giant will have to pay a $60-million federal fine. 

Other businesses should pay particular attention to the reason for the fine; the federal government issued the financial slap because Morgan Stanley “engaged in unsafe or unsound practices that were part of a pattern of misconduct” related to asset disposition.

Rather than using a certified ITAD partner, Morgan Stanley went, as someone put it, for the “poor man’s wipe.” But the attempt to put profits before privacy backfired as inadequately sanitized assets were resold. 

The debacle brings several lessons that all businesses should keep in mind as they debate how to part with retired IT assets:

If a quote seems too good to be true, it probably is.
  • No one wants to pay more than they need for any job. It’s easy to fall for a quote that comes in way below everyone else’s. But when you compare ITAD companies, a strikingly low offer may be a sign that something is amiss. Recycling costs tend to correlate with the rigorousness of asset disposition — and data cleansing in particular.
Saying the job will get done is not the same as getting it done right.
  • No promise or handshake can replace standards and certifications when it comes to guaranteeing the integrity of the entire process. The framework of certifications establishes clear chains of custody. They also include data sanitization verification, and a systematic approach to correctly navigating the increasingly complex regulatory environment. Certifications not only bring real ROI; the requirements make for a more efficient operation that you reap the benefits of.  
The best ITAD companies may not always be around the corner.
  • We have in a previous blog post cautioned against letting location trump other more important criteria. The fact is location is less of a prohibitive factor than in the past. The cost of palletized shipping is typically not a budget-buster. And worth it when the receiver is just the type of trusted partner that you’ve been searching for. Your partner may even offer logistics services that make pick up and transportation easy.

Learn more: Why R2-recycling is so important (video and text)

Value recovery: Turn your retired IT assets into a revenue stream

How do you make the most out of your obsolete or unwanted computers, laptops, smartphones, data center equipment, accessories, and other electronic products? Landfilling is certainly not the answer (plus, it’s a devastating choice for the environment). Nor is turning a backroom into an electronic graveyard with little oversight or long-term in place. 

Instead, it helps to think of retired IT assets as your urban mine of valuable materials. Since you made the initial investment, recycling your electronics is a straightforward strategy to boost ROI. 

The fact is one of your biggest company woes can, if you take the right steps, turn into a potential revenue stream. This is, as we pointed out earlier, even more true when secondary markets are hot as a result of shortages and supply chain disruptions. 

To maximize value recovery, keep in mind:

Choose the correct sanitization method.
  • Any method that renders the hard drive unusable is bad for recouping value. For that reason, pass on shredding and degaussing unless required by regulations. An R2-certified recycler that adheres to the NIST Clear and Purge methods can get the job done in accordance with the most important industry guidelines, and leave the asset intact for resale. 
Handle with care.
  • The way you store, package, and ship your retired electronics can greatly impact resale value. Keep in mind, although they have reached EOL status at your organization, their journey is far from over. And the better shape the assets are in when they hit secondary markets, the better chance you have at recouping value. 
Select the right electronics recycling partner.
  • The market for electronics recycling is getting increasingly crowded. But not all recyclers are created equal. It bears repeating that claiming to be experts is not the same as actually having the certifications to back it up. Settle for nothing less than complete transparency, the right certifications (like R2), certificates of destruction, and a company culture that prioritizes your needs at all times.

Make sure to watch this video on how to get started: E waste recycling 101

Sustainability: It’s good for business — and the environment 

The staggering volume of e waste generated on an annual basis is hard to comprehend. The Americas alone produced 13.1 metric tonnes (Mt) of e-waste in 2019. But you can be part of the solution. Since our reliance on technology is as inevitable as the need to eventually upgrade to something newer and better, you could choose to spotlight how your company is taking a responsible and environmentally sound approach to the disposal of your corporate e-waste.

By joining the drive to create a circular economy, you can: 

Improve business perception.
  • A corporate e waste management plan that demonstrates how your business is making a concerted effort to reduce its carbon footprint and minimize its environmental impact can, based on the above assessment, affect how you are evaluated and perceived by prospects and investors. 
Position your company as a sustainability leader.
  • With the alarms sounding on the role of e waste in climate change, it’s easy to realize the power of sustainability as a business pitch. Again, one of the most effective ways organizations of all sizes can lead the sustainability charge is to responsibly recycle electronics. 
Make an impact on the environment.
  • Recycling electronics is simply the right thing to do. Aside from the advantages to your business, responsibly parting with retired assets is also the right move for the environment. No business wants to see its electronics end up in landfills or cause harm to workers and citizens in developing nations. You can ensure that never happens by creating a sustainable e waste management strategy. 

On that note: How to turn your corporate e waste into a sustainability advantage 

How can we help you recycle electronics? The arguments favor a strategic, responsible approach — and a certified partner who you can trust. Inquire about our services for corporate electronic recycling.

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