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Electronic Waste Solutions: What is ITAD?

What do you do with your company’s electronic waste?

January 12, 2021

What do you do with your company’s electronic waste?

You know, those keyboards Bob kept spilling his coffee on, the dead monitors from accounting, and the laptop Maria used for ten years before she finally got a replacement?

Not to mention the cords, mice, phones, printers, tablets, servers, copiers, and any other now discarded devices that have outlived their usefulness. Is there a cube where dead tech goes to hide? A full closet? A room?

It would help if you had an ITAD plan.

An ITAD, or information technology asset disposition (sometimes also called an “information technology asset management” plan or “ITAM”), is the first step toward effective electronics recycling. Many companies – possibly even yours – have green initiatives or a desire to reduce their carbon footprints, but not a solid plan to deal with e-waste.

Why recycle your e-waste?

If making your office manager happy isn’t a good enough reason, here are three that you can take to your c-suite.

1. To help minimize the negative impact on the environment.

E-waste contains toxic components, including mercury, lead, cadmium, polybrominated flame retardants, barium, lithium, and polyvinyl chloride. In 2012 alone, the U.S. generated 3.4 million tons of e-waste – with only 29% recycled. That 29% was the equivalent of approximately 50,000 dump trucks-worth of electronics that ultimately made it to recycling. And while e-waste only makes up 2% of the trash in U.S. landfills, it comprises 70% of the overall toxic waste.

2. To comply with applicable laws, regulations, and requirements.

Most U.S. states have some form of regulation to deal with the recycling of electronic waste. In 2020 the European Union passed a series of laws calling for “initiatives for the entire life cycle of products, from design and manufacturing to consumption, repair, reuse, recycling, and bringing resources back into the economy.” It’s only a matter of time before these requirements influence new standards globally as more nations adopt them, and as international manufacturers develop compliance in the name of simplified production. 

3. To protect sensitive data.

Data security is a large part of e-waste recycling. Whether on a hard drive, memory card, flash drive, SIM card – or in any other form – most electronics hold some personal information. In the hands of cybercriminals, this information is a goldmine of potential value. According to the annual report from IBM Security and the Ponemon Institute, the global average total cost of a data breach in 2020 was $3.86 million.

The Structure of an ITAD Plan

In order to be successful, your ITAD plan should be clear, concise, and easy to comply with for everyone across your organization. As you move forward in developing your first plan, or updating an existing one, the strategy around your IT asset disposition should provide answers to the following:

  • Organizational Structure: Who in your organization has the seniority and experience to be responsible for these decisions?  
  • Purchase Alignment: What is your technology refresh cycle and retirement plan?
  • Documentation: Do you have technology lifecycle replacement criteria documented and are those protocols clear and accessible? What is the process for updating the documentation?
  • E-waste Recycling Processes: Is sensitive data being adequately sanitized? Are you in compliance with laws and regulations? Are your processes safe and environmentally responsible? Are you effectively pursuing avenues for recovering value?

Partnering with an outside Certified e-Steward® ITAD provider can create and/or implement your plan simple – even as effortless as recycling paper has become – maximizing your efforts while minimizing your cost and resource investment.

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