Businesses must keep up with the technological times and take advantage of newer electronics, machines and equipment that can make their products, services or workflow easier.
But what happens to the old tech that get stuck in the storage room for years, collecting dust and cobwebs? How can they possibly be disposed of in ways that can help businesses?
The WEEE Directive
In 2003, the WEEE, or Waste of Electrical and Electronic Equipment regulation stipulates that all individuals and businesses must find a way to dispose of their old equipment, laptops and computers responsibly. Equipment, or electronic products in these cases are ones that use power from batteries or plugs, such as TVs, radios, electronic clocks, keyboards, printers and mobile phones, among others.
The reason why these items must not reach landfills is simple. As electronic parts and circuit boards decompose, they release heavy metals and toxic compounds such as mercury and lead onto the land, the water supply, etc. Moreover, recycling is a much more practical method as it recovers precious metals used in the creation of the product, including aluminium, copper or gold.
As the world gets more high tech e-waste will certainly grow. Therefore, it’s absolutely essential that we find ways on how to deal with the problem before it gets worse.
Disposing of Electronic Waste
The life of an electronic item will depend on its condition and how useful it is for the owner.
For example, you have a 5-year old Windows desktop computer and you’ve recently gotten a new laptop. The old computer still works, but now you may need the mobility and convenience of a portable device. In this case, disposing of the desktop can be done several ways- by donating to a school or foundation, passing it on to a relative or selling it online through recycling platforms such as Plunc.
For non-working peripherals, you can have specialists collect in larger quantities and have the parts reused for future electronic goods.
Dealing with Sensitive Data
Proprietary data and all sensitive or private business information must be properly wiped for security reasons.
Conduct a quick once-over for the items you’ll be donating or selling. If it can store data and information, you’ll likely need to have it cleared and formatted before passing it on.
Pay attention to the kind of electronics you’re putting out. Here are ways on how to safeguard data on the most common office equipment:
Solid State Drives. Remove SIM cards and memory (if applicable). It would be wise to do a complete reformat and erase all folders (even the hidden ones).
External Drives. Make sure to conduct a full reformat the same as with an SSD.
Smartphones and Tablets. Perform a data erase and factory reset before selling, donating, or sending off for recycling. Check and see if there are any external storage cards and SIMs as well.
Routers. Routers may contain access information, so it’s best to do a factory reset as well.
Smart Devices. IP cameras, digital assistants, VOIP systems and TVs will need to undergo a memory reset to purge all business information. Make sure to reset as it may contain passwords or company names that could lead to a breach.
Benefits of Recycling e-Waste
E-waste recycling can be beneficial for businesses in a number of ways:
Improve Your Brand Reputation
Businesses can show their market and customers that they’re responsible and all for sustainability by properly disposing of e-waste materials. Trust and reputation among consumers are improved, which can translate to more sales down the line.
Keep Employees Happy
As the world becomes more aware of the e-waste problem, they will certainly want to be part of a company who does the right thing. Moreover, a sustainable workplace can help keep current employees happy, engaged and more productive.
Declutter Your Office
A cleaner, more organised office, establishment or desk space leads to better employee productivity and harmony.
Reduce Business Costs
Recycling can affect a company’s bottom line, since money can be saved by recycling instead of hiring waste removal services.
Authorised recycling companies can offer to exchange your old electronics for money, which can be used to purchase newer or refurbished equipment that helps business deliver faster or serve their customers better.
Sustainable Life Cycle of e-Products
Speaking of which, it’s now considered wise to invest in repaired or refurbished electronic equipment instead of buying new ones. It’s cheaper and has an equal or greater life cycle aspect. This allows for greater resources to be spent growing the company or investing in things that matter more.
E-waste recycling is a practice that breaks the chain of constantly buying new electronic goods, benefiting both the environment and businesses throughout the country.