How Does a Chain of Custody Keep Your Recycling Secure?

Mar 9, 2021

A chain of custody is a process that details exactly where your electronics are at every stage of the recycling process.

Why does this matter? It verifies that your data is kept secure up until the very moment that it is destroyed. It can also be used to protect the legal interests of your business if a customer has their data breached, as you will be able to show that you’ve appropriately handled their data and that the breach didn’t come from your facility.

If a customer’s data is leaked and your business is investigated, your chain of custody documents will prove that you are not responsible. You’ll be able to prove that the data was properly handled until the equipment was recycled.

What is Included in the Chain of Custody?

An appropriate chain of custody thoroughly documents each of the following steps:

Recording and Collection

As the first step in the process, the recycling provider visits your business to pick up the equipment that will be recycled. If you’re working with a reputable provider, they will already know the rules and regulations for handling your equipment.

Have a list of items that are being sent for recycling and data destruction. Keep a copy of this list in your files, as well, just to be safe.

Transportation and Tracking

The recycling provider that you’re working with should provide you with the ability to track your item’s location in real-time. You should always know exactly where each package that’s involved in the shipment is located.

There is software that can be used to automatically monitor and track your equipment, but some providers give this information manually.  Once the equipment has reached the facility, you’ll receive a comprehensive invoice that details and certifies the transportation of your equipment. You’ll also receive a list of items that can be refurbished.

Data Destruction

While it’s not quite the last step, it is the most important. Verify that your data is thoroughly destroyed at a secure facility. You want to work with a data destruction company that has appropriate security and protocols in place to keep your data protected before it is destroyed.


After data is destroyed, the company will examine every piece of equipment to see if there is any value in the remaining components. If there is, you’ll likely recoup some of your expenses.

Even if a piece of equipment can’t be reused, there may be some components within it that can be. Items that have no value are sent to electronic shredders that chop them into small pieces and separate them out, based on the components they hold.


As the last step in the entire process, you’ll receive detailed documents that show where everything ended up. These documents will also prove that local and federal guidelines were followed throughout the process. Maintain all of this information for your records.

A Chain of Custody is Vital

As you can see, having a thoroughly documented chain of custody will do wonders in helping you to verify that all sensitive data has been appropriately destroyed. Not only will this protect your business’s sensitive internal data from being stolen, but you’ll also protect all of your customer data, as well.

SEAM provides IT recycling and data destruction services including onsite shredding and hard drive wiping to South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, and Nebraska.

Schedule a pickup or contact us for more information.