IT Employment

Keeping electronics out of the landfill

Getting rid of old electronics, particularly computers, is a huge issue for large businesses. Sarbanes-Oxley mandates that these companies take reasonable steps to destroy any data on their computers, as they can be liable if confidential data is retrieved from these devices.

Getting rid of old electronics, particularly computers, is a huge issue for large businesses. Sarbanes-Oxley mandates that these companies take reasonable steps to destroy any data on their computers, as they can be liable if confidential data is retrieved from these devices. In some places, such as California, there are also regulations against simply throwing those devices away, because many of them contain hazardous materials.

Corporate Recycling (PC Magazine)

Today, the EPA will launch a campaign aimed at reducing the estimated 150 million cell phones that are simply thrown away every year. Also, a quick Google search easily located electronics recycling events. In fact, events in Knoxville in the coming week actually have door prizes for recyclers, and an event in Maryville, Tennessee, will include free cups of coffee for people bringing in electronics to be recycled. In St. Petersburg, Florida, an event that benefits the St. Petersburg College's Women on the Way program will be held late this month.

E.P.A. Seeks New Life for Old Cellphones (New York Times)

Taking out the techno-trash (Knoxnews.com)

Recycle your computer, help women's program (St. Petersburg Times)

Getting rid of computers is somewhat difficult for my organization because of state regulations regarding the disposal of equipment by higher education institutions. Most of the time, we simply wipe out the hard drives (the most painful and time consuming part of the process) and donate them to K-12, but otherwise, we have to package them up and send them off to auction, as state regulations forbid us from selling them in any other way. How do you dispose of old electronic equipment?

9 comments
Jaqui
Jaqui

Started January 1, 2008. The city Of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. ZERO electronic devices can be sent to a landfill or put out for waste collection. Residents are REQUIRED to take them to a recycling centre. http://www.gvrd.bc.ca/recycling-and-garbage/banned-materials.htm " * Electronic waste including personal computers, printers and TV???s Problem: Across the region we generate about 20,000 tonnes of electronic waste each year. Many components are recyclable. Others are toxic and require safe disposal. Solution: Encorp operates depots with free drop-off service in every municipality in Metro Vancouver either at a Salvation Army location or a Bottle Depot." from that url.

admin
admin

I work about 45 minutes south of Springfield, MO, which is where I live. For several years Computer Recyclers has operated in Springfield, which apparently runs as a viable business, accepting donations of computers, cellphones -- any electronics ready to be discarded. They used to charge $10 to take a CRT monitor, but more recently it appears they only charge for CRT televisions. Everything else is free drop off. They're open weekdays during business hours with limited Saturday drop-off hours as well. After several years of using them it's become hard for me to conceive of not having such an option. Regarding hard drives/computer towers or any type of media, they enforce a strict policy that once dropped off absolutely no one can reclaim them. I do a secure erase of drives in systems I'm discarding, but it's nice to know they're taking the security/privacy issue seriously as well. Kudos to Vancouver for providing a municipal model for other large cities to follow.

bdulac
bdulac

I also live in a small town in Northern Ca. and we have a transfer station that has started receiving any electronic devices for free. This is fairly recent and I've used it myself for disposing of old equipment. More steps need to be made still to ensure that old electronics are discarded properly. As a consultant I've offered removing data from systems before disposal as a service and would recommend it for anyone getting rid of their old system. It's not a difficult process but does require some technical expertise to completely remove the data. I'm not sure how high the risk would be of your data falling into the wrong hands but it would seem like a worthwhile step no matter what.

Jaqui
Jaqui

that they don't mention on the official site. thinkgeek.org, a local group who will accept any computer and keep it running, using open source software, selling them for low prices to those with a limited income, and giving them to their volunteers that need one. This saves the whole landfill issue, as well, thinkgeek completely wipes hard drives to install linux on the hardware. it's only when the system is completely un-usable that it would wind up going to the recycling depot then.

Jaqui
Jaqui

a local group like thinkgeek, if you have enough stuff for them, they most likely will come and pick it up.

moodiesburn
moodiesburn

I have several items in storage because I have no transport. Eventually I will have to pay to have it hauled away.

Andy Moon
Andy Moon

Do you hire one of the expensive hard drive shredders, bring a disposal company in, donate the equipment, or try to resell it?

Eternal
Eternal

We have ADS(Advanced Disposal Surcharge). We have recycling centres, you pay a fee when you buy new equipment which is supposed to pay for that equipment and current equipment to be shipped from drop off centres to recycling centres... however... there is nothing stopping somebody from "tossing" this stuff in a dump. Most transfer stations monitor what you are tossing and tell you where to put what.

Lizzie_B
Lizzie_B

Our local recycle center *finally* had a used computer collection drive. Originally it was set up to be by appointment only (you were given a 15 minute time slot when you had to be there) but eventually they decided to take "drive-ins" as well. For a small fee, they would take just about anything computer related. I disposed of 15 years worth of accumulated dead machines (including my original CompuAdd 268-10) for about $13. Other than that, the nearest place to recycle them is 2 hours away in another state. They also charge for the service. I'm a little surprised by the lack of services here, given that there are 2 major universities in the area.