Every company needs to have a sustainable IT Asset Disposition strategy. Why? It’s going to save you money, improve your reputation, and help the environment. IT Asset Disposition (ITAD) is a management technique for handling end-of-life IT items like laptops, desktop computers, servers, printers, smartphones, tablets, etc.
Three Benefits of a Sustainable ITAD Strategy
What are the three biggest benefits of a sustainable ITAD strategy?
A sustainable ITAD strategy is going to benefit you in three main areas. An ITAD strategy helps improve your company’s finances by helping you avoid government fines and penalties.
Plus, it’s possible to recapture some of an asset’s value if it has parts or components that are still useful for repairs or refurbishing. When you’re able to recover some of the value of your electronic devices, you’ll get cash that you can invest in updated, energy-efficient equipment.
- Improved Reputation:
When you’re responsible, you gain a solid reputation for wanting to protect your customers, clients, employees, contractors, and community members. You also show that you’re considerate of the environment and are part of a circular economy. That improves your reputation.
Think about some of the companies that have left unused electronics sitting in a storeroom or storage unit for so long that they forget about it. Things eventually get sold or recycled without a second glance, and it’s unknown what’s on that device. Or, a company is finally hired to haul away the electronics and fails to recycle them properly.
In those situations, companies’ reputations have taken a hit. Plus, they’ve paid fines and may be sued in class-action lawsuits. Be proactive and protect your company’s valuable reputation.
There’s one other consideration. If you have a better reputation than your competition, it can draw more business your way.
With an ITAD plan in place, you help protect the environment. While advances in technology are helping make computers and other devices smaller, they still contain some dangerous substances including:
- Heavy metals like lead and mercury
- Bromine and bromine flame retardants
- Phthalates esters
They also contain items like silver, gold, copper, salts, and aluminum ore. By recycling these materials instead of mining raw materials, you reduce some pollution and damage to the earth and community resources around the mines.
Not every state mandates electronics recycling, but that doesn’t mean you should be sending these items to the landfill. E-waste impacts the environment. By recycling it, you protect the groundwater and soil. It also reduces greenhouse gasses.
The Steps to Use When Developing Your Company’s Sustainable ITAD Strategy
What can you do to develop the best ITAD strategy?
- Assess Your Current ITAD Procedures
Take a closer look at what your current ITAD procedures are. Do you store electronics in a storage room or closet and forget about them until the room is full? Or, do you transport them to a storage unit off of your company’s main site and let them sit in that unit until someone arranges to have them hauled away?
How do you find a company to transport your electronic waste to a processing facility? Do you offer the items for free to employees or the general public? If you’re donating an old office printer to a former employee and haven’t wiped the printer’s memory, it can be a major problem if the employee knows how to retrieve the information.
- Consider Your Goals
Now that you know what you currently do, what are your goals? Would you like to be able to donate items to a low-income family or have them refurbished and collect the value for your equipment budget? Typically, you have four options for IT asset disposal.
Make sure you have clear goals, and if you’re not sure, consult with an ITAD specialist to determine if you’re overlooking anything. If you’re not used to e-recycling, there may be rules you’re unaware of in your state or industry.
In many industries, you need to have proof that you destroyed data before items were donated, sold, or recycled. Without this proof, you’re liable for any potential data theft. The best way to have a certificate of destruction is by working with an ITAD provider.
- Draft a Plan
You have your goals and know what you want to achieve, so now it’s time to draft a plan. Create a blueprint for what’s going to happen. What are the different stages? Most likely, you’ll need to follow a course of action like this.
- Inventory all equipment
- Decide what will happen to each item
- Separate donations, full recycling, and refurbishing/selling
- Destroy data in the appropriate manner
- Arrange a company to securely transport items to a recycling facility
- Keep track of what stage each item is in (transportation, data destruction, reselling, or recycling)
- Start Implementing Your Plan
Implement your ITAD strategy in logical stages. You’ll want to inventory everything you’re planning to recycle. Write down the item’s serial number and other identifying information. Do this before wiping or destroying data in case you have to access the information through the settings.
Once you have a full list, you’d start destroying data. This may involve using software that keeps overwriting with random 0s and 1s, using magnets, or physically destroying the hard drive.
Items that have value would have the data destroyed and restored to factory settings. Items that are no longer useful go into giant shredders where they’re chopped into small parts of plastic, metal, and glass. They’ll be sorted and packed into containers that go to processing facilities to be melted down for reuse. Crushed glass is often mixed into paving materials.
- Monitor and Make Improvements
Once your ITAD strategy is set up and operating, it’s time to keep track of how it’s going. You want to continually monitor processes and make changes as needed to ensure data is destroyed properly. Make sure items are recycled when they’re no longer needed. Most importantly, ensure that you’re doing all of this in accordance with the law.
Make sure all employees know what is to happen when they have a laptop, tablet, or other electronic that no longer works. This might mean having them bring the item to your IT department and signing a form that it’s been received by the IT worker and not just dropped on a desk in an unlocked office.
- Work With an Expert
When developing a sustainable ITAD strategy, it helps to work with an expert. Specifically, look for certain certifications to prove that your ITAD provider is ethical, considerate of the environment, and focused on protecting your company’s reputation. Certifications to look for include these six.
- AICPA SOC 2 – Security and data protection
- E-Stewards – Responsible recycling and reuse of electronic equipment
- ISO 9001 – Quality Management System
- ISO 14001 – Environmental Management System
- ISO 45001 – Occupational Health & Safety Management System
- NAID AAA – Awarded to ITAD experts who meet strict data destruction criteria
You could try to do it all on your own to save money, but if you don’t do things correctly, it gets costly. This was proven last year when a major financial company admitted they’d hired a cheaper company to handle their data center decommissioning and items ended up being resold without having the data destroyed.
With an ITAD partner helping you recycle your unneeded electronics, you gain valuable insight into destroying data correctly, recycling properly, and capturing the maximum value of your unused devices. ERI is that partner. We hold all six certifications listed above, and we pride ourselves in helping you recycle your electronics in a way that helps you gain the highest value so that you’ll have more money to put towards new business electronics.