What happens to your old IT equipment when it is recycled?

November 29, 2017
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When your business upgrades its IT equipment, the old equipment needs to be collected by a corporate IT recycling company. What happens to it then?

The data is erased

The first thing that the corporate IT recycling company does is securely erase all corporate data from old disk drives. Simply deleting a file is not good enough, the disk space that a file occupied needs to be overwritten with 0s and 1s using specialist software to make data recovery impossible. Alternately the brute force method can be used, smashing the disk platters into several small pieces using a large hammer.

These methods make sure that any sensitive corporate data or personal information does not get into the hands of unauthorized people.

Non-working IT equipment

Any IT equipment that the corporate recycling company cannot cost-effectively be disposed of, can be stripped of its components. Any reusable components such as graphics cards, disk drives or motherboards can be used as spare parts.

Unusable parts are stripped and categorised into various materials, plastics, wires, and metals and so on, which can be recycled. Some corporate IT recyclers incinerate combustible materials to provide energy.

The one thing that corporate IT recyclers avoid is sending components to landfills. Computers contain toxic materials that can be a health hazard.

Working or near-working IT equipment

Working IT equipment is checked by the corporate recycling company and then sold. Corporate IT recycling organisations may sell off large lots at auctions or sell IT equipment as refurbished online.

Some corporate recyclers give IT equipment to charities that train future IT workers. These charities show people how to fix, dispose of and refurbish IT equipment. Some of these specialise in training disadvantaged young people.

Developing countries

Many people and businesses in developing countries cannot afford to purchase new IT equipment. They also do not need the latest version of Windows. A business can be run using any edition of Windows as long as it is still being supported with security fixes by Microsoft. Alternately a computer can be run on the Linux operating system which can be kept up to date with no cost.

Developing countries in Africa and Asia need redundant IT equipment supplied by corporate recycling companies. The equipment can find new uses for individuals, small businesses and in the education sector.

Africa and India are experiencing a huge growth in the use of mobile phones. If new company phones are bought, the old ones can find new owners in the third world and developing countries.

Corporate responsibility

It is tempting to just dump old computers in landfill sites. This is illegal under the European Union Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE). It is also very environmentally unfriendly due to toxins. Every year, many businesses dump their old IT equipment. If they are found out, this can be PR disaster, and incur very costly illegal dumping fines.

A corporate IT recycling organisation will make sure that your company acts responsibly by safely recycling your old IT equipment.

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