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Electronic waste disposal – everything you need to know for your business

Updated on 14 December 2023

As a business owner, you are responsible for the proper disposal of electronic waste. This can be a daunting task, but with the right information, it doesn’t have to be. In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about electronic waste disposal for businesses. We will cover topics such as what is considered electronic waste, how to find a reputable e-waste recycler, and what steps you need to take to prepare your electronics for recycling.

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It’s estimated that there are 50 million metric tonnes of electronic waste produced each year. With electronic devices becoming more commonplace and with planned obsolescence built into many products, this figure is only set to increase. According to this UN report only 20% of e-waste is recycled which means it’s important for businesses to know what electronic waste is and how they should go about disposing of it?

What is electronic waste?

Electronic waste, or e-waste, is any item of electrical or electronic equipment that has reached the end of its life. This can include everything from computers and laptops to mobile phones and TVs.

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Examples of e-waste

  • Heaters
  • Fans
  • Mobile phones
  • Smartphones
  • Computers
  • Monitors
  • Laptops
  • Circuit boards
  • Hard drives
  • Fax machines
  • Copiers
  • Printers
  • Electrical cables and cords
  • Lamps
  • Smart watches
  • Copiers/Printers
  • IT Servers
  • Phone & PBX systems
  • Audio equipment
  • Network hardware

As you can see businesses generate a lot of electronic waste, and much of that waste contains sensitive data. It’s important to dispose of it in an appropriate manner to protect your customers and your business. Here are some tips on how to do that.

How to dispose of electronic waste?

So what are the options for disposing of e-waste? The most common method is recycling, but this isn’t always possible or practical. For example, recycling old computers and laptops can be problematic as the data stored on them may contain sensitive information. In these cases, the best option may be to destroy the devices so that the data cannot be accessed.

In this article we’ll cover the following types of electronic waste disposal services:

  1. Recycling
  2. Physical destruction
  3. Data wiping

Each method has its own set of pros and cons, so it’s important to choose the right one for your needs.

Recycling electronic waste

Recycling old computers is a great way to reduce the amount of rubbish that goes into landfills. When electronics are recycled they are either have the data wiped off them so they can be reused or their components are separated and the valuable materials are salvaged. Materials salvaged included metals like gold, silver, and copper, as well as plastics and other materials.

There are three main ways to recycle electronic waste:

1. Donating to charities or organisations that refurbish and resell electronics

Donating to charities or organisations that refurbish and resell electronics is a great way to recycle your old devices. However, there are some risks involved. If you don’t take the time to properly wipe the data from your devices, there is a chance that sensitive information could be accessed by someone else.

2. Selling electronics to specialised recycling companies

When it comes to recycling electronic waste, selling your devices to specialised recycling companies is one of the most common methods. These companies are experienced in dismantling and recycling electronics, and they often offer financial compensation for old devices.

One risk of this method is data security. If you don’t wipe your devices properly before selling them, sensitive information may be exposed to the new owners.

3. Sending electronics to e-waste disposal sites

When it comes to disposing of electronic waste, sending your devices to e-waste disposal sites is one of the most common methods. These sites are experienced in dismantling and recycling electronics, and they often offer financial compensation for old devices.

However, there are some risks involved in sending your electronics to these sites. One of the biggest risks is data security. There’s a chance that crucial data could be obtained by the new owners if you don’t clean your devices properly before sending them.

Always erase data from your devices
With all of these choices it is of paramount importance that you completely erase all data from your devices before sending them to any organisation.

Physical destruction of electronic waste

Destroying electronic waste is another option you have for disposing of your devices. This method is often used for devices that contain sensitive data. There are two main methods of destroying electronic waste:

1. Thermal destruction

This involves incinerating the devices in a furnace. This method is often used for large quantities of electronic waste.

2. Physical destruction

This is the breaking of devices into small pieces with a shredder or another type of tool. This method is often used for smaller quantities of electronic waste.

Whichever method you choose, make sure sure the company completely destroy the devices so that their data is inaccessible to anyone else. They do this by providing a certificate of destruction.

Wiping data from electronic waste

When it comes to recycling electronic waste, one of the most important steps is wiping the data from your devices. If you don’t take the time to wipe your devices properly, there is a chance that sensitive information could be accessed by the new owners. Make sure you completely erase all data from your devices before recycling them.

Should you wipe the data yourself or use a specialise company to do it?

There are pros and cons to wiping data from electronic waste yourself. On the one hand, it can be a relatively simple process, and it’s a great way to ensure that your data is completely erased. On the other hand, if you don’t have the necessary knowledge or experience, you could end up damaging your devices. In addition, if you don’t wipe your data properly, there is a chance that it could still be accessed by someone else.

Why choosing a specialised waste company is often the best option
These companies are experienced in wiping data from devices, and they often offer a guarantee that your data will be completely erased, providing you with a certificate of destruction.

This can be a great way to ensure that your data is safe and inaccessible to anyone else. In addition, using a specialised company can often be more cost-effective than doing it yourself.

However, there are some risks involved in using a specialised company. One of the biggest risks is data security. If you don’t choose a reputable and trustworthy company, there is a chance that sensitive information could be accessed by others.

With all of these choices it is important that you research different companies before choosing one. Make sure you choose a company that has a good reputation and that you feel comfortable with.

Factors in choosing an electronic waste disposal company

When it comes to choosing a waste disposal company, there are many factors you’ll need to consider.

Certification

The British Security Industry Association (BSIA) is the trade association for the professional security industry in the UK..

The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulations (WEEE Regulations) are designed to reduce the amount of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) that is produced, and to improve the environmental performance of businesses that manufacture, sell, import or use electrical and electronic equipment.

The WEEE Regulations place a responsibility on businesses to ensure that their WEEE is disposed of safely and responsibly.

On-site vs off-site data destruction

One of the first decisions you’ll need to make is whether you want your data to be destroyed on-site or off-site.

On-site data destruction means that a company will come to your premises and destroy your data there. This can be a great option if you have a large quantity of electronic waste, or if you want to be able to witness the destruction process.

Off-site data destruction means that your electronic waste will be taken to a specialised facility and destroyed there. This can be a more convenient option if you don’t have the space to store electronic waste, or if you want to minimise disruption to your business.

When choosing a waste disposal company, you should look for a company that is certified by the BSIA and compliant with the WEEE Regulations. You should also look for a company that provides a certificate of recycling.

What are the legal obligations?

There are strict laws and regulations surrounding the disposal of electronic waste. These laws vary from country to country, so it’s important to familiarise yourself with the laws in your area. Failure to comply with these laws can result in heavy fines and penalties.

Most of this electronic waste is disposed of in a safe and responsible manner, but unfortunately, not all of it is. As a result, sensitive data can be accessed, stolen or sold without the owner’s knowledge or consent.

This type of data breach can have a devastating effect on businesses and individuals, causing financial loss, damage to reputation and even identity theft.

As the amount of electronic waste continues to grow, it’s important for businesses to know how to dispose of it properly. Recycling is the most common method, but sometimes destruction is the best option.

Choosing a reputable and certified company is essential to ensure that your data is destroyed safely and responsibly. Familiarising yourself with the laws and regulations in your area is also important to avoid any fines or penalties. With the right knowledge and precautions, disposing of electronic waste can be easy and hassle-free.

When disposing of e-waste, it’s important to consider the environmental impact and choose the option that best suits your needs. With careful planning and research, you can ensure that your business is compliant with the relevant regulations and that you’re doing your bit to protect the environment.

Cost of electronic waste disposal

Disposing of electronic waste can be expensive, but it’s a cost that businesses must bear in order to protect their data and comply with the law.

The cost of electronic waste disposal varies depending on the type of service you choose. On-site data destruction is generally more expensive than off-site data destruction, and the cost of landfill disposal can vary depending on your location.

However, the cost of electronic waste disposal is nothing compared to the cost of a data breach. A single data breach can cost a business millions of pounds in damages, so it’s important to take all necessary precautions to protect your data.

Overall, the cost of electronic waste disposal is a small price to pay to protect your business.

FAQs

How much electronic waste is there in the world?

It’s estimated that there are 50 million tonnes of e-waste produced every year. This is expected to increase to 120 million tonnes by 2050.

What is electronic waste?

Electronic waste, or e-waste, is any type of electrical or electronic equipment that has reached the end of its life. This includes computers, laptops, phones, tablets, printers, and anything else with a plug.

What are the different types of electronic waste?

Electronic waste, or e-waste, is any type of electrical or electronic equipment that has reached the end of its life. This includes computers, laptops, phones, tablets, printers, and anything else with a plug.

What’s the difference between recycling and destroying electronic waste?

There are many different types of electronic waste which can contain sensitive data. Data destruction is an important step in ensuring that this data is destroyed safely and responsibly.

How do I choose a waste disposal company?

When choosing a waste disposal company, you should look for one that is registered and compliant with the relevant regulations. You should also look for a company that offers a range of services to suit your needs.

What should I look for in an electronic waste disposal company?

The legal obligations surrounding e-waste disposal vary from country to country, so it’s important to check the regulations in your area. In general, however, businesses are required to dispose of e-waste in a safe and environmentally friendly manner.

What are the different types of electronic waste disposal services?

There are a number of different types of e-waste disposal services available, from recycling and destruction to refurbishment and resale. The most appropriate option will depend on the type and quantity of e-waste you have, as well as your budget.

Reviewed by , Managing Director

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