A Quick Guide to Safe, Responsible Computer Recycling

Each day in the office, your company generates recyclable waste – paper towels, crashed computers, plastic candy wrappers, plastic lunch silverware, out-of-date cell phones and more. Filling up the landfill would be a royal waste(pun intended). What can you do?

No one would dispute the fact that recycling, particularly IT recycling, should be at the top of every business’ priority list. The facts are undeniable:

  • Every year upwards of one million tons of Electrical and Electronic Equipment (EEE) is thrown away in the UK
  • The manufacture of EEE requires high energy processes that are bad for the environment
  • When put into landfills, EEE can leak lead, mercury and other hazardous substances into the surrounding earth

It was therefore a sensible and necessary step, for the government to introduce the Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment (WEEE) Directive in January 2007. The Directive requires businesses dispose of their EEE responsibly through registered IT recycling companies and to keep full documentation of the disposal in order to avoid legal action.

Companies have been more than happy to comply with the WEEE Directive on the basis of its environmental implications, but what many people don’t realize is that computer recycling is also essential for a company’s own security.

Consider how fast technology changes and how cheap it is now becoming. In just a few years your IT equipment can become slow and unreliable, forcing you to upgrade or replace it. When you do decide to get rid of your old computers you have one very big problem: securing your data. The data stored on your PC or laptop may be confidential or financial in nature and needs to be disposed of in such a way that your private information stays private!

Luckily, IT recycling companies have realized the value of offering such a service and have endeavored to ‘kill two birds with one stone’, by removing and destroying EEE in a safe, confidential and responsible manner.

The procedure used by computer recycling companies involves crushing equipment in what’s known as the ‘size reduction process’ thus rendering sensitive information indecipherable. The resulting components are then sorted by material and sent for recycling, proving a valuable source of secondary raw materials for use in the manufacture of new EEE.

The benefits of computer recycling are multiple, both for individual businesses and for the environment. So the next time you decide on an IT upgrade, consider the positive impact IT recycling can have: wouldn’t you rather your new PC was made from your old one?

Chris Turberville-Tully is a marketing strategist for Sims Recycling Solutions, providing IT recycling services for businesses, governments, and organizations within the U.K.