It is clear from recent media coverage and the number of vehicles seen on the road that the computer recycling / IT Asset Disposal industry is becoming an increasingly congested marketplace with many service providers competing in the sector.
We are only too aware of the range of companies out there who will take away your old computers and the huge variation in their services, so we thought we would write a quick guide with our thoughts on the subject.
Obviously we would love you to choose us as your computer recycling service provider in Glasgow, Scotland and throughout the UK but this article is intended more as an educational guide than an advertisement for our services; we promote industry best practice so whether you use us to get rid of your redundant IT equipment or not, here are some things to bear in mind.
Getting rid of computers is a serious business – by the time you’re planning on disposing of them they are past their use to you but they can be of great interest to others because of the data they contain. There are also laws and regulations that affect IT equipment disposal, these are:
Very simply, whoever collects your old computers has to be licenced – in Scotland this is by the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA). The waste company will also need to give you a Waste Transfer Note showing what they collected, make sure they give this to you.
There are more requirements that form the Duty of Care; you have to aim to have equipment reused which means trying to keep it intact, keep accessories together, try not to damage it etc. – we are happy to advise on this and there is plenty of information on the Zero Waste Scotland website.
There’s more to computer recycling than chucking everything from an office to the back of a van, then driving straight to the scrap yard and pouring it out again. But there’s a lot of work involved in safe and secure reuse so to meet your obligations responsibly choose your supplier carefully.
Data Protection Act:
We have all heard of Data Protection and some of the crazy stories we hear about it like a bank not giving you any more information about the mystery letter they’ve sent you because of “data protection”, but on the other side there is plenty of coverage about the companies who are fined heavily for breaches of the Data Protection Act.
Further information is available on the Information Commissioner’s website but in essence if you hold data on people then you are a Data Controller and you have obligations to protect that data, one of which is to make sure it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.
Data breaches often happen when companies dispose of their redundant IT equipment as it is a vulnerable time. It may be a pile of old computers taking up space in an office to you, but it can cause a whole load of problems if not disposed of properly.
Most computer disposal companies will assess the reuse value of any equipment they collect and this can potentially offset costs, but if it is your responsibility to recycle your computers then we suggest weighing up the thought of getting a free service or getting a few pounds back with the need to get it done properly.
If a company is giving you a free service there could be a good reason for this; they might not be doing things properly, and is it worth the risk? You don’t want to be the one responsible for not carrying out due diligence and choosing the cheapest option if things go wrong, and a responsible asset disposal company will be able to show you how choosing them gives you the assurance that you have carried out your obligations.
That’s a very brief outline of the legal side of things, but there are also ways in which an IT Asset Disposal company can help you and save you time and effort.
A good computer recycling company should be able to provide you with a complete list of everything they take away from your site, complete with asset and serial numbers. This lets you remove the equipment from any asset databases or records, and you can then also recoup or reuse any licenced software that was installed.
You need the correct tools, the space and the time to erase data so it might be an idea to free up your staff’s time and leave this bit to someone else, but check what they use to erase data and what they do with any hard drives that fail erasure – can they destroy them properly?
Space can be managed effectively – during a rollout regular collections can be made to tie in with the number of computers deployed, using asset information provided the decommissioned computers can then be removed from Active Directory with complete accuracy.
So there is plenty to think about when disposing of computers, and here’s a quick checklist:
- Legal Requirements:
- Are they registered with the relevant Environment Agency?
- Will you get the mandatory paperwork?
- Can you prove Data Protection Act compliance? (Certificate of Destruction)
- Can they help you meet your WEEE Regulations obligations?
- Legitimate Company:
- Do they have any accreditations/certifications?
- Are they externally audited for quality and security?
- Can you visit their premises to see their processes?
- Are they active in the industry?
- Think about what is involved in carrying out the service and think whether you would do it free – will corners be cut?
There is an advert on television just now with the line “You get what you pay for” and this is as relevant in the IT Asset Disposal industry as they say it is to cars.
It is your and your company’s reputation and more on the line; would you give your data bearing computers to a computer recycling company who go over the edge of the cliff with the old frayed rope or the shiny new rope?