Recycling News

Questions to ask potential computer recycling companies

Posted on May 31, 2014 (Editorial)

Pile of failed CRTs


 


Following up from our previous post on what you need to know before retiring old computer equipment, we are now going to look at what you need to know before hiring a computer disposal company. Specifically, what questions you should ask so that you don’t regret your decision down the road. Failure to do at least a little due diligence can result in expensive fines and damage to your brand. What’s more, you may need to pay to have the same computers disposed of twice if you are required by law to hire a second recycler to fix the misdeeds of the first.


Asking the following questions will go a long way toward protecting you and your company from unscrupulous computer removal and recycling companies:


 


1. Has the recycler been certified by R2 or e-Stewards?


This is probably the most important question to ask. For a recycler to be certified, the company is reviewed and verified by a certifying body that they are properly disposing electronic equipment, along with ensuring worker health and safety and proper data security practices.  In other words, certification provides third-party verification that the recycler does what they say they do.


There are currently two certification standards, R2 and e-Stewards. Both standards are recognized by the EPA, both require strict accountability for environmental health and safety practices, and both prohibit e-waste from being mishandled or illegally discarded overseas.


The primary difference is the value that R2 places on preserving natural resources by extending the useful life of equipment, parts, and components. R2 does this by allowing these items to be repurposed, when feasible, rather than destroyed. For example, processors in smartphones can be removed and used to make eReaders and controllers.


 


2. Does the recycler have errors and omissions insurance?


This is another easy way to sift out the reputable firms from the questionable ones. Although errors and omissions insurance protects the asset removal company from liability regarding your data, it’s also a good indicator of how professional the company is and how your equipment and data will be handled. Errors and omissions insurance companies have strict rules on how equipment and data should be disposed of. Many asset removal companies either can’t afford errors and omissions insurance or they don’t qualify for it.


 


3. How long have they been in business?


In this business, longevity says a lot about the reputation of the firm.


 


4. Do they have references?


This sounds obvious, but make sure the references aren’t only from small companies. Larger companies typically have a stricter screening process when selecting asset removal companies.


 


5. Are they limited to computer disposal?


Not all computers should be immediately destroyed. A good asset removal company can also provide services for redeployment, employee purchase programs or charitable donations.


 


6. How will they protect your company from liability?


Your old equipment inventory should become their equipment inventory. That is, title should be passed on to the asset removal company. They should provide a certified report detailing the services performed for each piece of equipment along with a confirmation of software removal (listed by hardware serial number). This serves as evidence that you retired your equipment in a proper and responsible manner.


 


Bottom line


Once a computer has left your business, you have lost control over what happens to it. And, unless your company properly protects itself, that computer can come back to haunt you in terms of security, privacy, fines, litigation and poor publicity.


Because of these issues, it pays to work with a reputable company that can properly retire your equipment and shield you from these risks.


 




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Other recycling firms don't want you to see this!
Recycling VideoFind out what happens when 60 Minutes follows one computer recycling company's e-waste from the U.S. to one of the most toxic places on Earth.


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