Why prioritize IT asset reuse?
Generally speaking ITAD vendors are content to take your IT assets, break them down, and recycle or dispose of the parts. Surprisingly, as one recent study suggests, recycling excess or obsolete assets is definitely not the most environmentally friendly downstream direction for your retired assets.
High global stakes for e-waste
Much of the world’s electronic equipment and appliances end up discarded as e-waste. In 2014, 41.8 million tons of e-waste was generated, and the United Nations estimates this number will increase to 55 million tons by 2018.
So where does it all go? The UN reports that a small portion — 15% — is recycled according to best practices. But global trading of electronics creates complex waste streams, allowing e-waste to land in developing countries with substandard recycling practices.
Shipping e-waste globally on a huge scale rate not only adds to the dumping problem in developing countries, but it also eats up valuable resources used to transport the waste around the world. While safe recycling does present a strong option for combating e-waste, reuse yields a net benefit to both the environment and your bottom line.
Measureable impacts result from reuse of your excess IT equipment
Reuse provides real and measurable benefits over recycling. Due to the high energy cost of recycling, reusing a computer can be 20 times more energy efficient than recycling it. A study by the Circular Economy Task Force revealed that a reused iPhone retains approximately 48% of its original value, while just 0.24% of its value is retained through recycling. The Circular Economy Task Forcenotes that “this is because reuse and remanufacturing preserve much of the value created through manufacturing.”
Constructing just one computer and monitor from scratch takes a huge environmental toll, requiring 530 pounds of fossil fuel, 48 pounds of chemicals, and 1.5 tons of water, according to the Electronics TakeBack Coalition. Refurbishing that same computer and monitor will not only prevent additional resource extraction, but also generate found revenue for your company.
How do ITAD vendors make reuse happen?
Most computing devices can be quickly and easily tested for potential resale. Perhaps more importantly, many devices are manufactured with relatively generic components that can be recovered in a de-manufacturing process and reused as components in a production or service environment. There are available markets around the world for almost all used computer components.
The global economy for used IT assets is thriving. ComputerWeekly.com reports that the used-smartphone business is booming, with 120 million used smartphones being sold or traded in in 2016, resulting in a market worth over $17 billion. All of this means that — with the help of a conscientious ITAD vendor — your excess IT equipment will likely find a buyer.
How secure is the refurbishment process?
You may still be skeptical. Can you completely and permanently erase data from a computer’s hard disk drive — from servers, P.C.s, and laptops? According to the most recent science, the answer is “yes.”
When every sector of a hard disk drive can be overwritten with a random 0 or 1, it is impossible to recover any meaningful piece of data — even with the most sophisticated data-forensics technology.
With proper management, data-security protocols, and rehabilitation expertise, an ITAD vendor can remarket your excess IT assets to ensure they leave your hands in the most responsible and sustainable way possible.
What’s the next (or first) step?
They should be able to tell you, in relatively good detail, which assets have a reuse value, which don’t, and why? Furthermore, if you’re not getting any reporting on resale values of your material, which returns cash or reduces expense, then you’re not getting the service you deserve. The dollars involved can be very significant — so ask questions and be skeptical.
- ITAD: Beyond Data Security
- PC Makeover: Program Aims to Make Refurbished Electronics More Attractive as Global e-Waste Stream Swells
- Decoding ITAD Industry Certifications