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How to dispose of IT hardware without hurting the environment


Many enterprises don’t think much about where their obsolete IT gear winds up, but it’s possible to be green-minded, not bust the budget, and even benefit a little from proper disposal. Here is how.

Go back to where you bought

The first option to consider is returning the equipment the vendor or reseller you bought it from, says Susan Middleton, research director, financing strategies at IDC. “Every year we ask customers, ‘How do you handle end-of-lease?’ Overwhelmingly, they return to vendor or partner who are better equipped to handle recycling,” she says.

Vendors often give a fair-market buyout for the devices that can go toward new products, Middleton says. “The big players like IBM and HPE do a great job because they can clean them up and resell them, and the facilities to do that are pretty big,” she says.

Vet disposal firms

If that’s not an option,  and you have to find a disposal company – an IT Asset Disposition (ITAD) service – on your own, the first thing to check is whether it is properly certified, says Mike Satter, CEO of IT asset disposal and data-center-decommissioning provider OceanTech. Proper certification starts with a Responsible Recycling (R2) certification.

R2s are administered by Sustainable Electronics Recycling International (SERI), a non-profit organization dedicated to the responsible reuse, repair, and recycling of electronic products. It sets the R2 standard and audits ITAD providers that carry the standard to make sure they are in compliance with the standard. Being responsible means creating a paper trail that shows the electronic waste – which contains heavy metals including arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, chromium, cobalt, indium, lead, mercury, nickel, and thallium, and are toxic in high enough doses – is reused, recovered or recycled.

Some disposal firms dump old gear in general landfills or export them to other countries where regulations aren’t as strong.  

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