Does your company have recycling bins for paper, plastic and glass? Do they have the same for your outdated, unused, or excess IT equipment? Chances are.. probably not. If your company is like many others, you store unwanted technology in backrooms or illegally dump it with the rest of the trash. This week’s article (Part 1) won’t change company policy, but it will identify the compliance risks your company faces when disposing of unwanted technology.
The “Is Your Company Throwing Out Old Electronics” series covers three main points of the risks associated with IT asset disposal:
• Data Security
• Environmental Impact of E-waste
• Benefits of Recycling Electronics
This week, we’re diving into compliance risks, an issue that can have direct financial impact on your company.
Compliance with relevant laws is important in all industries, but many companies don’t consider the issue of compliance in dealing with old, broken, and unwanted servers and electronics. Unfortunately, there are major risks associated with non-compliance in recycling electronics, and it’s important for companies to work toward full compliance. But first, it’s important to know what compliance means in this context.
Are old electronics just trash?
Your company’s old servers and electronics aren’t just outdated or broken equipment, they’re a liability to your company, and a problem that needs to be solved. Once it has reached the end of its “life”, old electronic equipment is known as “e-waste”, not just trash.
What counts as e-waste?
E-waste is modern term for a broad category of items that can include any broken or unwanted electronic equipment that needs to be disposed of. With technology moving at a lightning pace, companies are constantly upgrading equipment and ending up with a surplus of e-waste.
Are there any regulations on e-waste disposal?
Yes! Legislation exists in many areas of the world to help control the amount of e-waste going into landfills, promote re-use of as many materials as possible, and to protect both personal data and the environment. These laws are constantly changing as recycling best practices and awareness of the risks of trashing equipment evolve. In the United States, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) is involved with this process.
How does e-waste recycling work?
Electronics are complex devices, containing many different materials, often a combination of glass, metal, and plastic components. Because of this, recycling isn’t as simple as melting down a bottle for re-use. Electronics must be broken down and separated into bins of each reusable component. This scrap can then be sold for use in new products, cutting down on both landfill contributions and mining of new raw materials.
Why is e-waste dangerous?
Have you ever seen a power cord with a lead warning? Maybe some other indication that there were harmful materials in your electronic equipment? The following are all products that can be found in electronics:
• Brominated Flame Retardants
• Hexavalent Chromium
• Radioactive materials
E-waste dumped into a landfill has the potential to release these materials into the soil and water, posing an ever-growing risk to the globe. This public health and environmental hazard is just one of the risks associated with not properly recycling old electronics.
So… What are the risks of non-compliance?
While it might seem expensive to invest in a solution to e-waste, it can be far more expensive to keep trashing electronics and servers. Companies that do not recycle old electronics can face major fines and other consequences for not complying with the latest federal and state regulations. Thousands of dollars in fines, as well as cleanup costs can be an enormous blow to companies, especially smaller companies. In addition to potential fines, there is risk of throwing out value when tossing out old equipment. Assets that may seem worthless can actually be turned into revenue in many cases by being re-purposed or sold.
Tweet This! “In addition to potential fines, legal battles and compliance issues, you might be throwing out value when dumping old IT equipment!” Tweet This!
What does this mean for my company?
The amount of risk your company is taking by not fully complying with legislation depends on a number of factors, but when it comes to e-waste, any deviation from compliance can cost. Besides avoiding any fines, complying with e-waste laws is the right thing to do and yet another way to connect with environmentally conscious clients and customers.
How do I find a compliant solution?
The first step? Looking into your current policies. What is your company currently doing with their old electronics? E-waste might not be a major concern for consumers with just a few unwanted devices, but for companies with a large output of equipment—whether it’s an occasional upgrade or a constant stream of e-waste, finding a compliant recycling solution can seem daunting. The industry of e-waste recycling is still emerging, but there are solutions for your company to manage all the risks of e-waste disposal and become compliant with the most current legislation. It’s hard to keep up with all of these changes if you’re not focusing exclusively on the industry, which is why at ICT, we do that work for you.
Don’t already have a complete electronics recycling program in place? Fill out one of these forms to start exploring how ICT can help create a simple and compliant solution for your company.
Susannah Bruck is a freelance blogger, editor, and ghostwriter. She has been putting her skills to use for clients since 2010, and enjoys working on formats ranging from blog posts to short stories and plays. You can find her at World Adventures