Demand for laptops is huge. Resale markets can help you make the most out of laptop recycling. 

One of your biggest company woes can, if you take the right steps, turn into a potential revenue stream. Among all your end-of-life electronic equipment, you may not be aware that one piece, in particular, is in especially high demand in secondary markets — laptops. It can, in other words, pay to make sure you get laptop recycling right. 

Considering the average lifespan of a laptop is no more than three to five years, laptop recycling is pretty much impossible to avoid. Yet, it’s hardly surprising if it’s not at the top of your priority list. Or, if you have settled into a routine but have little time to assess whether or not it’s working out in your favor.

Laptop sales are way up

One trend, though, is for certain: laptop sales are skyrocketing. Driven by the pandemic, global shipments of laptops reached 218 million in 2020, a 26% year-over-year bump. Even as we have put the height of the work-from-home days behind us, that figure has continued to grow and is expected to hit 225 million in 2021. 

The fact is getting the most of your retired laptops is not complicated. Here’s what you should keep in mind. 

What you can do to get the most out of laptop recycling

Handle with care

When your laptops reach the end of the road for your organization, keep in mind their journey is far from over. Unless regulations mandate shredding, your sanitized laptops can be resold. And, the better shape they are in when they hit the online resale market, the better chance you have of maximizing value recovery. 

So, before you even ship them off to your electronics recycler, handle your laptops and other electronic assets with care. This means:

  1. Beware of creating an electronics graveyard: First of all, do not let the time between retirement and shipping extend indefinitely. While it makes sense to accumulate assets to ship larger volumes at a lower cost, waiting too long can affect their value. 
  2. Store in a safe place. Secondly, protect your laptops as they await shipping. They should emerge from storage in the same condition as they went in. If you have maintained your laptops while in use, don’t overlook the importance of this last phase before they leave your facility. Careless stacking or tossing can damage your assets, making them much harder to remarket.   
  3. Use the right packaging techniques. Finally, the way you package and ship your laptops affects value down the line. You recycler can, of course, remove broken screens or parts but you pay the price in plummeting returns. By using the right packaging techniques and materials, you help safeguard the value of your assets. 

Choose the correct sanitization method

When the time comes for laptop recycling, you have to make a decision on the level of data sanitization that they will require. Again, we’d like to throw in a word of advice — any method that renders the hard drive unusable is bad for recouping value. With that in mind, here are three methods to consider:

Shredding: For obvious reasons, a shredded device retains the least value. The process leaves the commodity unclean with circuit board, plastics, and metals mixed together. Therefore, it’s important to make sure shredding is something you must pursue because of regulations or the nature of your data. If not, you’re better off selecting another method. 

Degaussing: Many companies destroy discarded hard drives on-site by degaussing. The practice often grows out of habit or an abundance of caution. If maximized IT asset value recovery is the goal, this is not the optimal choice. The difference in value between a degaussed and sanitized, intact drive is pennies versus dollars. 

Erasure/Wiping: A wiped drive has no recoverable data. Yet, it remains intact and, as a result, leaves the laptop in great shape for resale. However, make sure the erasure is backed with documented erasure validation guarantee, including the serial number. Simple deletion or reformatting does not equal wiping. 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. 

Evaluate electronics recycling partners

The market for electronics recycling is getting increasingly crowded. But not all recyclers are created equal. It’s important to remember that claiming to be experts is not the same as actually having the certifications to back it up. 

So, when evaluating potential recycling partners, settle for nothing less than complete transparency, the right certifications (R2 is No. 1), certificates of destruction, and a company culture that prioritizes your needs at all times. The right partner can help you navigate resale markets and turn laptop recycling into a potential revenue stream. 

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