Companies regularly upgrade their IT systems and can generate a large amount of electronic waste. Even if you hire your computers on a corporate leasing program, you can never be sure where your old IT devices end up after they leave your office. This is a problem as many materials in computer parts can be harmful to the environment. Here are some eco-friendly ways to deal with the computers and servers in your company when it is time for an upgrade.
What is Wrong With E-Waste?
Electronic waste or e-waste usually contains several toxic substances such as flame retardants and metals such as mercury, lead, lithium, cadmium, and barium. If disposed of improperly, these substances in e-waste can pollute the environment and harm lives. When ingested or inhaled, these toxins can cause severe health problems like neurological damage.
Sometimes, e-waste is melted or burnt to help scavenge valuable metals such as copper from its components. When this happens, fine particles and toxic gases are released into the air, causing air pollution that extends thousands of miles beyond the processing site. These particles can settle into the soil and water, causing irreversible damage to the environment.
When e-waste is dumped in regular landfills that are not specifically designed to contain toxins, the metals and chemicals can seep into the soil and contaminate the groundwater as well. Once the groundwater is polluted, toxins can travel for thousands of miles along waterways to the ocean, poisoning thousands of plants, animals, and humans along the way.
Protect Your Data
Data and privacy are paramount for any business. Before you get rid of your computers, ensure that they are cleared of any business data. Even though the chances of someone looking to misuse your data are slim, you should not risk confidential client information getting into the wrong hands. This could end in lost clients, liabilities, and lawsuits
If you have not done so already, back up all the documents and files from your hard drive onto your company cloud or server. You can also save it onto a USB stick if you prefer to keep the information offline. When you are sure that you have made copies of everything you may need, you can proceed to wipe your hard drive.
Most versions of Windows will allow you to fully clean your hard drive. However, experts may still be able to recover files deleted in this way. For a more thorough and secure wipe, you should consider using third-party disk wiping software. If you have extremely sensitive data on your hard drive, it might be best to go the old-fashioned way and smash it with a hammer.
Resell Where Possible
Many computers that are considered too old for corporate use can still be useful to the average person. There are several options for selling your old computers through online marketplaces such as eBay or Facebook. If you are not interested in negotiating, find a computer store that will give you a significant discount for trading in old computers.
If you are upgrading your servers, the easiest thing to do is to sell used servers to an IT asset disposition specialist. Professional server decommissioning companies handle a variety of server brands like HP, Dell, and Supermicro. They will erase your data for free and issue a certificate of destruction to ensure that there will be no data liability.
Reuse What You Can
If you are disposing of computers, you can often break them into salvageable parts and reuse the components in another computer. For instance, RAM and hard drives are simple to remove and reinstall and can be added to other computers. Similarly, computer peripherals such as mouses and webcams can easily be moved to other stations.
In the event that you cannot find a good use for certain items in your office, ask your employees if they would like to take them home. Your team members may love to have a printer for home use, even if it is an outdated model. Likewise, computer components such as old monitors may help your employees to save their hard-earned money.
Donate or Dispose
If you have already written off the cost of your old IT equipment, another option is to donate them to non-profit organizations and community groups. Your old IT equipment could help marginalized people access education or vocational training. Some charities may also benefit from your donation of essential IT equipment for their daily office operations.
When all else fails, disposal is your last resort. Your local government website should have a list of safe electronics disposal sites and you may also be able to hire an e-waste disposal company to take your old IT equipment away. However, be sure to check that the company you engage adheres to best-practice environmental disposal guidelines.
With great power comes great responsibility. IT systems allow your business to enjoy efficiency and productivity. In turn, they need to be disposed of with respect for the environment at the end of their lifecycle. Be more eco-friendly by minimizing the e-waste that you generate and ensuring that what you throw away is handled with care.