Electronics Recycling and ITAD: What’s the Difference?
Disposing of old IT devices requires a lot of planning forethought. Not only do all hard drives and other forms of storage media need to be accounted for in an IT asset register, but the method of data destruction should also be secure and thorough so as to minimise the chances of a data breach occurring.
Naturally, organisations must also consider the environmental impact of e-waste disposal. As more and more jurisdictions around the world enact e-waste disposal laws prohibiting the dumping of waste from electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), organisations are under increasing pressure to seek more sustainable methods of e-waste disposal.
When landfill disposal is out of the question, as it is in the UK, organisations must therefore seek alternatives. Two of the most common methods of waste management for IT assets are via electronics recycling companies and IT Asset Disposition providers. What’s the difference between the two and which is better for your organisation?
An electronics recycler provides an essential service whereby they collect and recycle redundant IT assets, thereby diverting e-waste from landfills and sorting out various recyclable materials for reuse. This is the bread and butter of their services, and their processing facilities tend to be adequate for processing large quantities of e-waste.
Of the three R’s (reduce, reuse, recycle), electronics recyclers naturally satisfy the recycling component. Consequently, it’s better to choose an electronics recycler than it is to dispose of e-waste in a landfill, where it may be unlawful to do so. Having said that, recycling is not necessarily the best option; reusing electronics, wherever feasible to do so, can be even better in terms of cost and environmental sustainability.
Although electronics recyclers tend to be proficient at just that, recycling, they do not by definition provide secure Data Destruction services such as Hard Drive Shredding. Moreover, they have no incentive to harvest useable parts and to arbitrage them for profit; instead, they simply reduce electronics down to their core materials and recycle whatever they can.
This means that organisations are losing out on potentially a significant amount of money that could have been recouped through remarketing and refurbishment of useable devices and components.
IT Asset Disposition in the UK
IT Asset Disposition, or ITAD for short, is a term denoting the processes for secure IT Asset Disposal. Security is the key differentiator. ITAD companies must therefore be committed to providing top-notch security when it comes to asset disposal, such as secure Hard Drive Destruction using professional equipment and providing a clear audit trail and full accountability for every process.
ITAD companies, like electronics recyclers, collect and dispose of electronics such as hard drives, but their focus is on secure processes and efficient methods of disposal, which may or may not involve recycling. ITAD companies differ from electronics recyclers in that they optimise the method of data destruction to meet the specific needs of their client. This means that IT assets may be refurbished or remarketed after having all sensitive data destroyed, or they may be recycled via certified recycling processes.
All of this helps organisations achieve a higher ROI on redundant IT assets whilst also remaining compliant with data disposal laws, data protection laws and regulations, and mitigating a major risk vector for data breaches in organisations. Corporate Computer Recycling and remarketing also help organisations to create a more circular economy model by delaying needless e-waste.
In terms of auditable and accountable processes, ITAD companies should always be able to demonstrate a clear track record for every IT asset processed. Wisetek differs from many other data erasure companies in that we provide certificates of data destruction for every asset destroyed, video verification, and various IT solutions to track assets in real-time.
Similarities Between ITAD Companies & Electronics Recyclers
Whilst electronics recyclers and ITAD companies provide recycling services for electronics, the scale and scope of their operations differ significantly. Recycling is a great way to keep e-waste out of landfills, no matter who is providing the service.
In terms of their recycling processes, ITAD companies and electronics recyclers recognise the value of components and materials used in IT assets and can efficiently process large volumes of hard drives and other storage media.
Responsible e-waste disposal is important for environmental reasons, but it’s also important that assets are disposed of in a manner that is compliant with data protection regulations such as GDPR UK. For this latter reason, it is crucial that organisations demonstrate due diligence and choose a method of disposal that mitigates data from being compromised.
Key Differences Between ITAD Companies & Electronics Recyclers
Whereas an electronics recycler is tasked with reducing electronics down to their constituent parts and sorting them for further processing and recycling, an ITAD provider can provide a wider range of options for disposal. ITAD companies such as Wisetek can ‘triage’ IT assets and sort them by their potential for remarketing and refurbishment, only choosing to recycle and dispose of e-waste when absolutely necessary.
This has a number of advantages for both the organisation and for the environment. Firstly, organisations stand to benefit from the maximum possible ROI on redundant assets since assets designated for disposal that can still be used can be subsequently refurbished and remarketed through platforms such as Wisetek Store.
Secondly, organisations can satisfy internal CSR strategic goals for environmental stewardship by diverting even more waste from landfills. If an asset can be remarketed and refurbished, this reduces recyclable waste even more. In brief, the organisation becomes more sustainable whilst the environment sees less needless e-waste.
Conversely, an electronics recycler will not typically provide data destruction services; at least, not in a manner that may be sufficiently compliant with data protection regulations. The provision of data destruction certificates, full audit trails, a chain of custody for IT assets, and other methods of trust and security are lacking. Instead, they simply take old IT assets and recycle them, regardless of any sensitive data that may be contained on the asset.
In brief, organisations must consider the potential data security risks when dealing with redundant IT assets. The importance of data security means that electronics recycling most often will simply not suffice.
E-Waste Recycling and the Environment
According to the United Nations Institute for Training and Research report entitled Global Transboundary E-waste Flows Monitor 2022, Europe generated 12.0 Mt of e-waste in 2019 (or 22% of the 53.6 Mt generated worldwide). This works out to around 7.3 kg of e-waste per capita, with a corresponding recycling rate of around 42%.
In the future, it is likely that e-waste will reach an estimated 74.7 Mt worldwide by the year 2030 and up to 110 Mt by the year 2050, all other things held constant. Unless recycling habits change, the world is looking at a looming e-waste crisis.
Recycling is a great way to increase the current 42% figure, but refurbishment and remarketing are even better for the environment as they contribute to a more circular economy.
What’s Better for Your Organisation?
For organisations operating globally that prioritise data security, compliance, and auditability, there is no question that ITAD is superior to ordinary electronics recycling. Even if the outcome is the same (recycling), ITAD providers emphasise data security and will ensure that all sensitive data is thoroughly and securely destroyed.
Global ITAD Solutions from Wisetek
Electronics recycling has applications for private individuals, but organisations should emphasise data security and compliance and choose a reputable ITAD company such as Wisetek.
Our global solutions, such as hard drive shredding and Data Centre Decommissioning, keep organisations secure, sustainable, and compliant wherever they operate. From our office in Milton Keynes, we provide on-premises data destruction at business parks in the East Midlands, Essex, and all across the UK.
For more information, please contact email@example.com or visit our website.
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