July 2013

How to Make it Easier to Reduce Risk When Recycling IT Assets

How to Make it Easier to Reduce Risk When Recycling IT Assets

By Cindy Miller

Even if your company never intended to break environmental regulations, it could find itself charged with doing so anyway. When you’re planning environmental policies and procedures, it’s not just your own company’s practices you need to worry about. If the vendors your company partners with don’t follow responsible and compliant environmental practices disposing of your company’s waste, your company could be liable. This is especially true when it comes to recycling IT assets.  You risk fines and potentially costly negative publicity.

You have a lot of choices for IT recycling and remarketing vendors. Some are more reputable than others, and many of them promise they’ll dispose of your material according to all federal and state regulations. But those promises are just words. What matters is what they have backing up their promises. This is where certification is important. You don’t have the time or the resources to thoroughly investigate your IT recycling partner’s entire process, especially when you take into account the downstream partners it uses. Leading certification organizations like e-Stewards handle that investigation process for you. When your partner for recycling IT assets holds the e-Stewards certification, it tells you that it follows all local and national regulations for recycling, that none of the material it handles ends up in landfills or illegally exported, and that it has a fully-documented process from collection to final disposition.

What e-Stewards certification says about electronics recyclers

Building on the framework of ISO 14001, the global standard for environmental management, e-Stewards certification adds requirements specific to electronics recycling. Among them:

  • A prohibition on the export of hazardous e-waste from developed to developing countries. This protects people and the environment in those countries.
  • Safe practices for on-site handling of hazardous e-waste (such as no shredding of mercury). This protects the workers that are handling your retired assets.
  • Full accountability for the downstream recycling chain to final disposition. This ensures compliance all the way through the process.
  • Compliance with the NIST 800-88 standard for data sanitization and destruction. This ensures that your data is destroyed.
  • Standards for refurbishing and remarketing equipment to ensure they’re functional and whole.
  • Insurance requirements. This protects you, workers and the environment.
  • Requirements for collecting and documenting data, including transparency of the entire chain of custody for toxic materials to any customer who requests it. This ensures you, and regulators, have access to information at all times.

Because it ensures all of these elements are in place, looking for e-Stewards certification is the best way for your company to avoid paying fines and suffering the public embarrassment the comes from being discovered contributing to environmental contamination and poor workplace conditions.