Properly disposing of e-waste can be a challenge — it’s hard to know where to go, what materials are accepted and whether your data will remain secure in the process. But what really happens when you finally dispose of it?
Recently, the Basel Action Network (BAN) watchdog group published the results of a study looking into this question. BAN secretly installed GPS tracking devices on old electronics and delivered them to common e-waste disposal sites (most of which were government-approved) in 10 countries.
The results were harrowing: The study revealed that significant amounts of e-waste were exported (often illegally) to other countries and disposed of using substandard, illegal and even dangerous practices. Such practices can have serious consequences, from pollution and endangering the environment to jeopardizing the physical health of workers involved in the operations.
What it means for you
BAN’s report concludes that e-recycling providers contribute to the problem, so it can be challenging for organizations to find e-recyclers they can trust not to export electronics or dispose of them improperly. You’ll need to research how to properly discard electronics and where to locate an honest, responsible e-recycling partner that engages in sustainable recycling practices.
The report also raises concerns about data security. When electronics are sent to landfills or overseas, the data on those electronics is unprotected and can be easily hacked or stolen. That means you’ll need to ensure that your e-recycling partner meets the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) standards so your data remains safe.
What you can do
Making sure you properly dispose of electronics is the best way to help curb the problem. Familiarizing yourself with materials you can’t just throw out is important since businesses and organizations can face fines for improper disposal of electronics. You’ll also want to utilize a local, experienced recycler that does not ship e-waste overseas and adheres to the National Association for Information Destruction’s (NAID) requirements.
Select a recycling partner with proven success recycling industry-specific items such as military or government equipment, as well as common items such as printers, TVs, computers, batteries and phones. Ask if they have sustainable processes, if they’re R2-certified, and if they adhere to NAID standards. Find out if they can offer assurances that your electronics will be recycled in a safe environment that follows best practices for disposing of e-waste. Finally, ask them to guarantee that they will not ship your e-waste overseas.
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Chad Hayes is the chief technology officer and director of e-recycling at Sadoff E-Recycling & Destruction. He joined Sadoff Iron and Metal in 2015, where he oversees and leads the strategic planning and implementation of IT. With his extensive 20 years of IT and business leadership experience and passion for data security, he was the perfect choice to establish, build and lead the Sadoff E-Recycling & Data Destruction Company, a company of Sadoff Iron and Metal. He can be reached at [email protected].