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IT asset disposition (ITAD) just got a little bit easier thanks to a recent announcement by Apple—at first glance, anyway. The tech giant has initiated a recycling program at all of its retail locations that allows consumers to turn in unwanted Apple products to be refurbished, or recycled. If the device still has value, the consumer will be compensated with an Apple gift card.

It is encouraging that manufacturers like Apple are making the recycling of the devices they manufacture easier for their customers.  Globally, most electronic devices are still not recycled when they are retired.

The terms and conditions of the program vary by location, but in most cases Apple is prepared to recycle any device they produce, and will provide an Apple gift card for the device(s). You could use those gift cards you get by returning your old hardware to help offset the cost of newer hardware. This is good news for consumers, but the value of the program to businesses isn’t so clear-cut. Before you head off to the Apple Store with a big box of your employee’s old macs, tablets and iPhones,  consider some of the limitations:

Program Limitations

In some locations there are strict limits on the amount of material that Apple is willing to recycle. You may simply have more material than they are willing to take and have to seek out an ITAD partner to handle the rest.

Restricted Rewards

It is great to get money back for your retired devices, but what if you rely on products not made by Apple? By exchanging your devices for gift cards rather than actual money, you are forced to funnel the money back into Apple products. If you or your office only uses Apple devices, that might not be an issue. But for some companies, an Apple gift card might not actually be the most valuable.  Certified ITAD vendors will give you dollars, not gift cards.

Third-Party Recycling

Apple is willing to recycle products made by other device manufacturers in a few rare instances, but the program is basically limited to Apple products. That means if you rely on mobile devices  and laptops not made by Apple, you will have to find another ITAD partner.

Program Transparency

Avoiding the compliance pitfalls of ITAD depends on knowing where your recycled devices are going and how they are being handled. Since the Apple program is consumer focused, most of this information is unavailable. Companies that follow the best practices for IT recycling have earned the e-Stewards Certification. But since Apple works with a global network of recyclers, it takes a lot of investigation to determine if your unwanted devices are being handled responsibly and legally.

Security Threats

Ensuring that your unwanted devices have been wiped clean of sensitive information is one of the major concerns of ITAD. If you turn devices into Apple with data still on them, there is no way of knowing who in their logistical chain may be able to access it. You should take the initiative to sanitize any device before you turn it into Apple.  Certified ITAD partners can help you quickly and effectively manage the wiping and recycling process and provide you with auditable documentation.  Apple only provides a drop-off location.

The program that Apple has put into place is definitely a step in the right direction. But if you are serious about data security or value, you are better off seeking out a certified partner to help you safely dispose of your devices and extract any residual value.