Is computer recycling a scam?

Recycling symbol in the middle of a motherboard

Posted on Tuesday, February 27, 2018

IT hardware disposal has always been a contentious issue. Many of the chemicals used in circuit boards and processors are toxic (mercury, lead, cadmium, beryllium, cadmium etc.) and must be disposed of carefully to prevent environmental contamination.

And as businesses attempt to make their operations more eco-friendly, IT hardware disposal has become increasingly important. Many even include commitments to increased recycling as part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) targets.

Many recycling schemes are scams

Unfortunately research by Vice.com has discovered that many recycling schemes are far less eco-friendly than promised. Instead of breaking down parts locally, hardware was instead being shipped to countries in the developing world where e-waste is poorly regulated. Low paid workers are then paid to strip any items of value while anything left over is typically sent to landfill.

Instead of offering an environmentally friendly service, these scammers are simply shifting the problem abroad. Toxins are still being released into the environment, and the health of people in these developing countries is jeopardised.

Recycling is not the (first) answer

If your business is serious about being more environmentally friendly, simply disposing of older hardware is not the answer. Instead, you should be investigating how storage assets can be redeployed and reused in-house first.

Redeployment could take a number of forms. Older disk arrays could be used to replace or augment tape libraries for instance, bringing cold storage data back online. Alternatively, existing assets could be used to provide the backbone of a software-defined operating environment.

Whatever you choose, “old” hardware can often be put to new uses in your business – rather than being sent to landfill.

When the storage assets really have to go

When IT assets reach the end of their second (or third!) life, recycling does become a valid option. According to the Vice.com report, your business should not choose an e-waste partner who offers “free” disposal – it is impossible to break even or turn a profit under this operating model, so these are the players most likely to be polluting the developing world.

Instead, partner with a business that provides complete transparency as part of their IT hardware recycling program. In that way you can satisfy your CSR targets and help make your organization greener.

To learn more about reusing existing IT storage assets, or truly environmentally friendly recycling services, please get in touch.

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