Summer Clean-Out: Top Tips for IT Teams to Get Rid of Old Electronics Safely
Electronic equipment upgrades are a reason for celebration in most offices. New computers, laptops, and communication devices increase efficiency and improve the workflow, but they also leave the IT team to dispose of truckloads of old equipment. A lot of that equipment no doubt contains sensitive data. Improper disposal of these electronics and their data is not only damaging to the environment but can also lead to data theft.
Allowing sensitive documents to get into the hands of unauthorized people or—worst case scenario—identity thieves can leave your company vulnerable to regulatory non-compliance. Being in non-compliance may result in costly fines and job loss.
Tips for Safe E-waste Disposal
Computers, smartphones, tablets, and other digital media devices contain both valuable and toxic materials. Donating or recycling electronics conserves natural resources and decreases greenhouse gas emissions needed to manufacture virgin materials. According to the EPA, recycling one million laptops saves the amount of energy equivalent to the electricity 3,500 American homes use in one year. But before the unwanted electronics from your office can be donated or recycled, you must safeguard their data.
- Know the Law
Several federal regulations mandate privacy standards for the disposal of e-data, including:
- The Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act (FACTA)
- The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
- The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA)
Destroying your hard drives is the best way to ensure compliance, no matter which regulations pertain to your company.
- Erasing Isn’t Enough
Some IT professionals are still under the impression that erasing hard drives is action enough to keep sensitive data secure. Many aren’t aware that personally identifiable information (PII) may still be available on erased devices. In fact, a study conducted by the National Association for Information Destruction (NAID) found that 40% of used electronics still contained PII.
- Choose a Reliable Hard Drive Shredding Provider
Needless to say, your hard drive shredding service should be trustworthy and professional. Look for these qualities before contracting with a secure shredding service:
- Choice of on-site destruction so you can oversee the process
- Certificate of Destruction for both off-site and on-site services
- Can provide client references
- Excellent local reputation
- A security-screened technician collects hard drives
The company should recycle the remains of your hard drives by extracting the raw materials to reuse in new products. The recycling process may happen at a different facility, but the business should provide a Certificate of Recycling when the job is complete.
- Where to Recycle or Donate
Once all the sensitive data has been securely destroyed, you have several options for disposing of the electronics. In some cases, you can take electronics back to the store where you purchased them. Check online to learn more about a specific retailer’s recycling program. Another option is recycling through your local waste management company.
Call2Recycle is a national electronics recycling program with dozens of drop-off locations in almost every state. It is also a valuable resource for recycling laws state by state.
Call local schools, shelters, work training centers, and local non-profit groups to see if they have a need for electronics. Larger organizations you could contact include:
- National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
- The Make-A-Wish Foundation
- Donation Town
- Fireside International
- World Computer Exchange
Donating your company’s electronics may provide the company with tax benefits, so be sure to speak with accounting before making a final decision.
SEAM provides on-site and off-site hard drive shredding and electronics recycling services to South Dakota businesses. Contact SEAM to learn how we can help your IT team with the safe and responsible disposal of electronics.