Has your company’s IT asset disposition partner (a recycler or remarketer that handles your IT equipment after it has outlived its usefulness to your company) given you a “certificate of recycling” or another similar document meant to certify that your material will be handled according to all environmental laws and standards? If your company is concerned about environmental compliance and responsible practices, it might be reassuring to receive such a certificate, but what does it really mean?
As more and more retired IT equipment leaves the facilities of enterprises nationwide, reports of irresponsible, unsafe, and outright illegal environmental practices by IT recyclers continue to pile up. But companies continue to overlook IT asset disposition in their environmental policies and green initiatives. Organizations that do this may be exposing themselves to a significant amount of risk. What are the risks associated with non-compliance with environmental laws and standards?
- The risk of paying finds and legal fees when your company is found to be non-compliant.
- The risk of diverting company resources to avoidable remediation efforts.
- The risk of bad publicity and a loss of customer or investor confidence.
Because of the severity of these risks, your organization should not be satisfied with the “certificate of recycling” your ITAD vendor gives you. While it’s very possible your vendor does handle toxic material properly and provides a safe and healthy environment for its workers (and its downstream partners do the same), the news reports of very irresponsible behavior by a few American electronics recyclers and appalling working conditions at their partners overseas should tell you it’s worth looking deeper than the certificate of recycling. After all, all it takes to create a certificate of recycling is a computer, some software and a printer (if you are getting a hard copy).
Certifications give meaning to certificates of recycling
A certificate of recycling is just a document. Certification of a recycler by one of the two leading third-party standards organizations in the electronics recycling industry, on the other hand, tells you a lot about an IT recycling or remarketing vendor. It tells you your vendor and all of their downstream partners follow all state and federal laws for electronics recycling, they and their partners provide safe and healthy workplace conditions, and they can document the entire disposition process for all types of equipment, ensuring none of the material ever ends up in a landfill or illegally exported. The two most respected and reliable certifications for compliant and responsible IT recycling are:
While the two standards have significant overlap in their requirements, there are some differences. That’s why, to ensure they meet the highest standards possible, many organizations are choosing to work only with electronics recyclers that possess both certifications. Because it requires a significant investment of time and money to meet both standards on an ongoing basis, when a vendor has both, it shows that it is committed to doing electronics recycling—as well as remarketing and data destruction—the right way.
Our newest white paper, “The 2013 Guide to Environmental Compliance in IT Asset Disposition,” discusses the environmental risks associated it ITAD in depth. It also includes information on the benefits of partnering with an e-Stewards and/or R2/RIOS certified partner.