By Michael Nersinger

Have you ever gone through a technology refresh and realized that you have a lot of old computers with stored data? Do you know what to do with them? Have you ever wondered what happens to your obsolete equipment when you do get rid of it?

If you think deleting a file from your computer removes any critical data or information, think again. Data  is still stored on the hard drive and it is accessible, and you don’t want it to fall into the wrong hands. To ensure your personal- or business-sensitive data is destroyed, follow National Institute of Standards and Technology guidelines, or make sure you understand terminology, like “degaussing” or “overwriting software,” when you hire an electronics recycler to manage that data for you.

“Data is still stored on the hard drive and is accessible.” Michael Nersinger, environmental engineer for Xerox.

“Data is still stored on the hard drive and is accessible.” Michael Nersinger, environmental engineer for Xerox.

In addition to protecting your information, you must also be sure that you’re protecting our environment. Electronic devices, such as laptops, computers, televisions, keyboards, mice, printers and other computer peripherals contain hazardous materials, such as mercury and heavy metals, that can contaminate water supplies and the soil, or pollute the air.  In developing countries, unrecovered waste is often left to accumulate on the ground causing harm to people as well as the wildlife.

Improperly managed electronic waste or data can cost your company hundreds of thousands of dollars and damage the reputation of your  brand.   Be sure that your recycler is fully aware of the risks and potential consequences associated with improper disposal practices

To find a responsible recycler, ask these questions:

  1. Where does the recycler send its scrap materials?
  2. Does it conduct its own due diligence on those scrap facilities?
  3. Has the recycler been issued a fine or notice of violation from a regulatory agency in the last three years?
  4. What is the financial standing of the recycler?
  5. What type of insurance does the facility hold?
  6. How does the recycler manage data and security of assets?
  7. Is the facility certified in responsible recycling practices?

A more complete checklist for selecting a responsible recycler is available from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). . Better yet, check out the R2 Leader program from the Sustainable Electronics Recycling International coalition. Occasional site visits show the recycler that you are committed to responsible recycling and may strengthen your relationship with that company.

Responsible recycling can go a long way to enhance your brand and protect your company. You can make that happen.