It’s no secret that more and more large corporate IT organizations and data centers are embracing a formalized IT Asset Disposition (ITAD) program. Often driving these efforts are the recognition of problems arising from an unorganized process for managing retired IT assets.

Excess IT material that ends up in the wrong place can result in legal actions and huge fines. More importantly, most large entities understand that IT waste is a global problem, and, if they are not acting as part of the solution, they are part of the problem.

Most ITAD programs are in their relative infancy, and the standards by which participants should be involved is, in most cases, a matter of opinion. There are hundreds of ITAD service providers with offerings of “data security mitigation,” “secure chain of custody,” “environmental compliance,” “circular economy recycling,” “remarketing for reuse,” “compliance certificates,” etc. Those are all matters for consideration in choosing an ITAD provider. But here’s the $64,000 question:

“Is my ITAD program going to be a profit center or a cost center?”

As with most things, the real answer is­­­: it depends. Here are some factors to consider when answering this question for your organization.

Asset Type: Data Center

Most ITAD service companies want to talk first and foremost about assets coming out of data centers. Why? Because they’re typically a collection of high-value, used IT assets — all located in one place — that may have a very high resale value if not too old. Furthermore, the resale of this material can be accomplished with a minimum amount of processing and handling.

The market has a healthy appetite for Xeon processors that are three to four generations old, as they are not typically available from Intel or AMD and are needed for upgrade/repair in the installed base of servers out in the field. All SATA hard drives are “liquid gold” for those who are prepared to wipe them inside the data center.

Memory is always an easy sale, and much of the networking gear also has high value. Those items that cannot be resold have real value in the recycling sector, which has now become quite efficient in processing base metals and other materials.

Bottom line: the potential for ITAD in data center assets to be a profit center is quite high if the assets are less than five years old and your electronics recycling/asset recovery team is lean and efficient.

Asset Type: Distributed Assets

The potential for ITAD recovery in distributed assets presents a greater challenge.

Distributed assets are generally described as electronics products such as PCs, laptops, monitors, printers, modems, and phone systems that are recovered as offices are upgraded or closed. These assets are often located in a number of different locations, making it difficult to efficiently manage the ITAD process.

Distributed assets are often older IT assets in various states of disrepair. In this category, if your assets include a relatively large quantity of laptops that were manufactured in the last three years­ — you’ve got yourself a profit center.

On the other hand, if you have lots of printers and eight-year-old monitors, be prepared to write a check to your ITAD partner for the service of making sure every piece of that material is recycled responsibly with full documentation. It’s not pretty, but it will keep organizations like the EPA from knocking on your door.

In summary, thinking ahead about the lifecycle of your ITAD can allow you to maximize potential profit centers and identify potential cost centers far before it’s time to dispose of your used IT assets.