3 Myths About IT Asset Disposal and Electronics Recycling

Posted by Frank Milia

Sep 18, 2015 3:37:56 PM

Many companies in the electronics recycling and IT asset disposal industry utilize scare tactics and try to focus a buyer’s attention on false narratives to win new clients and increase profitability of contracts.  We believe in transparency and educating our clients.  Here are some facts in response to three common myths being disseminated by disposal service providers. 

The Myth: Allowing a disposal vendor to reuse or sell your equipment creates additional liability for your organization.  Allowing the third party vendor to sell the equipment will be a problem for your organization since the item can be found in a landfill in the future or can otherwise be utilized inappropriately. 

Some of our competitors use this inaccurate storyline to convince organizations to dispose of valuable equipment at an inflated cost under the premise that the vendor will be destroying the equipment and no asset will be sold as a functioning unit that can be traced back to the original owner.  Whatever the IT asset disposal vendor’s motive is, the idea that all surplus computer and IT equipment must be dismantled and destroyed to remove downstream liability is flawed and environmentally irresponsible. 

The Fact:  With best practice data destruction and chain of custody processes in place selling surplus assets is a secure, environmentally responsible, and an economically practical solution for retired computer equipment.  All organizations should document IT asset disposal work with serialized inventory reports, transfer of ownership statements, bills of sale and link transactions to a formal master service agreement

The IT asset disposal vendor should be utilizing an inventory management system that can track the asset from receipt from client to the sale to end user or downstream partner in order to address any unlikely disputes or exposures that could be inappropriately traced back to the disposing entity.  

Consider other common situations of transferring assets such as selling a car.  Would one expect to be liable after legally selling a car with appropriate documentation to a buyer who then goes on to cause an accident? 

Call Them Out:

If a vendor has made this claim ask him/her to provide proof of a real world example where an organization has faced a fine, legal trouble, bad publicity or any other liability related to the sale of company IT assets.  Ask the vendor to provide any legal documents to support this claim.   

The Myth: Only vendors with this (insert any third party certification here) are doing things right and any other provider will be breaking environmental regulations and putting your organization at risk. 

When a competing vendor has very little to display that will separate their firm from the pack they might inflate the importance of the specific third party certifications they hold and make false claims that these certifications are the end all to your organization’s liability concerns.

The Fact:  There are two prominent certifications (R2, e-Stewards) commonly obtained by ITAD providers and these certifications include requirements to hold ISO 14001 as well as OHSAS health and safety management systems.  Both certifications are very similar, but neither guarantees a vendor will be compliant with your company’s environmental policy or legal regulations.

Doing your own vetting, documenting due diligence, and implementing a formal agreement is as important as your vendor maintaining a third party certification. 

Call Them Out:

If a vendor has made the claim that the certification they hold is superior or a must have certification ask them to prove this with metrics and supporting facts.  We also urge you to do your own research and see that the EPA and the Federal Government's policy, driven by an executive order from the President of the United States of America, values these certifications but does not favor one over the other.    

Myth: If your current provider is paying you for equipment or providing a no cost solution they are breaking environmental regulations and must be dumping the waste illegally either domestically or internationally. 

Many competitors utilize this scare tactic to get valuable equipment from companies and collect inappropriate fees. 

The Fact:

If an IT asset disposal vendor is buying your surplus equipment at a reasonable value it would make no business sense for that vendor to then throw away the stock or illegally export it as waste.  When a vendor pays for equipment your organization is at less of a risk.  In order to sell the surplus equipment the ITAD vendor will have to wipe data, clear networking equipment, re-image, and warranty the equipment as a functioning system to another buyer.

All ITAD providers should be able to provide a pricing model that accounts for the market value of a client’s disposable equipment.  If the equipment does not have value the client should incur a fee for destruction and management services.  If the equipment has some value but only covers the operating costs of the vendor a no cost solution can be appropriate and fair for both parties.  If the equipment’s value significantly exceeds the logistics and operating costs of the disposal vendor a credit or cash back for the equipment is due to the client. 

Call Them Out:

If a vendor makes this claim again ask them to provide a real world example where assets sold to a computer disposal provider at reuse value created a liability, fine, or negative publicity for the organization disposing of the assets.  Ask the vendor why would a company pay for a company’s disposable assets, or even take on the logistics costs of removing the equipment if they could not turn the product back into a profitable sale on the secondary markets. 

Looking for a tool to get the most value back on your company's IT disposals?

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Topics: IT Asset Disposal, eWaste Disposal, Risk Management

Performing IT Asset Disposal Vendor Due Diligence (Part 2)

Posted by Frank Milia

Apr 1, 2015 8:38:00 AM

Part 2: Documenting a Site Visit to an IT Asset Disposal Service Provider

In this second installment of best practices for vetting a disposal vendor and documenting a process for electronic waste disposition IT Asset Management Group (ITAMG) is advising organizations to prepare for audits around eWaste recycling, environmental compliance, and data security for end of life media and IT assets by performing and documenting a site visit to the disposal vendor’s facility.

ElectronicsRecyclingFacilityIn the first post ITAMG described the importance of having a Master Service Agreement that covers the critical components of any IT asset disposal program.

It is important to note that the burden of performing due diligence when selecting a vendor and developing a compliant process extends further than signing an agreement with a third party vendor. It is in the stakeholders’ best interest to investigate and document firsthand the capabilities and infrastructure of any vendor handling electronic waste or data destruction projects regardless of the reputation, certifications, or track record the vendor may present.

Performing a site visit will help your organization vet a computer recycling firm by confirming and documenting several attributes and capabilities of the vendor. Consider you may be looking to confirm something as basic as the recycling vendor is operating inside a building with four walls and an enclosed roof (which is not surprisingly a requirement for many 3rd party certifications) all the way to more complex receiving, audit, and technology driven capabilities of the vendor such as the inventory tracking system, data wiping, and refurbishing capabilities of the firm.

Key attributes of the recycling facility and process to document:

  • Access controls and security of building, technical areas and warehousing
  • How and where shipments are received
  • Tracking process for loads and assets from receiving to shipping (recycle or final sale)
  • Process, tools, and infrastructure used to wipe and physically shred or destroy hard drives and other electronic storage devices
  • Inventory management system capabilities and equipment audit process
  • Inspection for general health and human safety conditions
  • Dismantling, refurbishing, technical, and packaging capabilities of the site

During your visit to the electronics waste recycling or IT Asset Disposition vendor’s facility take careful notes on the vendor’s process, infrastructure, tools, software, and volume of equipment in processing and assets in warehousing.

Ask questions to determine if the amount of assets your firm will be generating for disposal is in the scope of what the operation can handle. Use your best judgment to determine the capability of the vendor to service your needs in a timely manner.

Some vendors may have issues with photos being taken in certain places, but where allowed take as many photos as you can and use these photos to document your visit, the process, and capabilities of your selected vendor.

A documented site visit is a powerful display of performing due diligence and to mitigate liability of an unlikely breach or exposure that could occur from an improper computer disposal.Once you have performed and documented your disposal vendor site audit, consider setting a reoccurring meeting to go over any major process or facility changes that may occur over time.

In the coming weeks we will be following this post with more on how to document your due diligence in sourcing downstream waste handlers, maintaining a secure data destruction program, and other important asset management, certification of destruction, and financial considerations to account for. 

 

Download the ITAMG Inventory Template Today to Get The Best Value For Your Company's Responsible Recycling:

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Topics: IT Asset Disposal, Electronic Waste Management, Risk Management

    

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