thumbnail image for blog post: What to Do Before Recycling Your Computer

When it’s time to upgrade your used computer equipment, it's important to dispose of the old devices legally and securely.

Electronics from commercial generators are regulated as hazardous waste and must comply with Federal, State and Local landfill bans. Data security legislation also requires businesses and organizations to properly destroy data on obsolete devices. Computers, cell phones, tablets, even printers - most types of technology stores data that needs to be protected.

Along with complying with data privacy and environmental legislation, there are a few other steps to think about before disposing of computer equipment:

Steps to Take Before Recycling or Reselling Business Technology:

  • Save important files - Back up any important files you do not want to lose. Once a hard drive has been properly wiped or shred, there's no getting that data back. Make sure anything you want to keep is saved elsewhere before recycling or reselling your equipment.
  • Deauthorize computer & uninstall programs - Many programs only allow users to install software on a limited number of devices. If you plan on using your software in the future on a different computer, make sure to deauthorize the old computer and uninstall your purchased programs.
  • Consult your organization's data disposal policy - This policy should guide you on where to bring your old computer or device and what, if anything, is required of you beforehand (i.e. record serial numbers, remove hard drive, etc). If your company does not have a policy in place, they should. Follow this guide to help create and implement one now.
  • Destroy your data - Even after files are deleted, data still remains on your device that can be easily recovered. You must properly wipe or shred any media remaining to ensure the data is truly unrecoverable. With the right tools, this can be done in-house. However, most companies choose to outsource or combine efforts with a qualified electronics recycler or reseller for the most affordable and efficient solution. 
  • Choose a disposal method - If your equipment is older than five years, it likely does not have any resale value and should be recycled. Proper recycling prevents hazardous waste from contaminating the landfill, keeps reusable materials in use, and keeps your company in compliance with environmental legislation. For newer devices that still work, reselling or donating can help you recover value or pass along useful devices to others in need. Whichever method you choose, it's important to use a reputable, certified electronics recycler or reseller to ensure the equipment is handled responsibly if recycled and all data is securely destroyed if resold. Without the guarantee of certifications like R2 or e-Stewards, you have no validation that your device is not just being dumped if there's no value, or being sold off without proper data wiping. If something happens, you are held liable as the generator, no matter who you sent it to when you were done using it. Make sure to cover your bases when choosing a provider.

Located in Sioux Falls, South Dakota and serving customers in Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota and the greater South Dakota area- SEAM  helps businesses, organizations and municipalities properly recycle or expertly resell their computer equipment. Contact us today for more information on reselling or recycling computers and electronics.