The Truth about E-Waste
In today’s world, it is very important to understand how e-waste or high-tech devices disposed of (such as computers, laptops, cell phones, printers, disk drives, disks, monitors, and data storage devices) are affecting the environment.
It is estimated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that more than 112,000 computers/laptops are discarded each day in the US, which equates to 41.1 million per year. Likewise, more than 20 million televisions, 100 million cell phones are put in the trash each year. When combined with the numerous smaller devices, it is estimated that between 3 and 4 million tons of e-waste is compiled each year in the US alone.
When e-waste is thrown into trash bins, it is normally transported to one of numerous landfills. The items are then subject to the elements and dangerous chemicals such as mercury, lead, beryllium, and brominated flame retardants are released into the air, contaminate soil, and leached into the water source. When human beings are subjected to toxic chemicals emitted by e-waste, their risk for kidney disease, cancer, lead poisoning, and genetic mutations.
This is why it is essential for the business community to develop processes and procedures for properly disposing of electronics and finding recycling partners with effective processes.
Tape Recycling Statistics
It is safe to say that the United States has a long way to go to improve recycling efforts, especially where data storage tapes are concerned!
Recent statistics have revealed:• 50% of all paper is recycled• 45% of all aluminum cans are recycled• 34% of all plastic bottles are recycled• Less than 3% of all computer back-up tapes are recycled!
This is why we at Recycle Your Media are working daily to inspire corporations to recycle their legacy tapes. From 2005 to 2011, we have recycled more than 2.2 million tapes which equates to more than 1.5 million pounds or 769.90 tons. While these numbers are exciting, we have a long way to go.
Organizations utilize our services largely because 99.9% of all tape we recycle is re-used, and the 1% that isn’t used is incinerated into green energy. These are important facts because sadly enough there are numerous “recyclers” of e-waste that under the guise of a US-based operation that recycles products to be reused, end up shipping e-waste to third-world countries and dumping them in wastelands. This is why it is important to do your homework before hiring out a recycling agency.
Best Organizational Recycling Practices
As you consider developing and/or bettering organizational recycling processes, it is important to take stock of all items that are considered e-waste including batteries, computers/laptops, printers, printer cartridges, disk drives, monitors, disks, and data storage tapes. Also, it is important to identify other items that are thrown in waste bins on a regular basis. The following are ideas to help you build a solid recycling program that will both safeguard the environment and cut expenses:
• Computers/Laptops & Monitors – Used computers and monitors contain many pieces and parts that can be recycled for further use including hard drives, plastics, glass monitors, CD Rom Drives, Cathode Ray Tubes, copper in power chords, batteries, and more. There are a number of reputable recyclers that both refurbish entire units and individual parts and then resell them to the public at discounted prices.
• Printer Cartridges – It is quite common for most organizations to go through numerous printer cartridges each year. Not only is the purchase of brand new cartridges a costly expense, it is also wasteful because many inkjet cartridges can either be refilled in-house or via ink refilling services – this both helps greatly helps the environment and saves organizations a good chunk of change each year.
• Data Storage Tapes – For organizations using tape for data storage and backups, it is definitely recommended that they recycle their tapes. All tapes can be completely sanitized of all data and then used again either internally or repurchased by other companies. For instance, our services at Recycle Your Media include purchasing, refurbishing, and reselling high-quality tape.
• Paper Recycling & Usage – Recycling paper is a must in today’s world. To assure that paper is properly disposed of, utilize paper recycling bins and either hire a service to pick them up or have a team member deliver bins at the end of the week to a certified recycler. Additionally, it is a good idea to consider going as “paperless” as possible. This can include inspiring staff to utilize online portals and databases to store files rather than print them and migrate to e-bills for clients rather than utilizing traditional paper billing methods.
• Bottles, Cans & Foods – Most work environments tend to generate an ample amount of waste by employees each day. In fact, it is estimated that the average person creates more than four pounds of trash each day. For an organization with 100 employees, that means 400 pounds of trash daily! Developing a recycling program for bottles, cans, and food is a responsible decision for organizations large and small.
Tips for Keeping Organizational Data Secure When Recycling
When recycling computers, hard drives, disks, and other electronics containing invaluable data, it is vital that you take measures to protect your privacy. All data should be completely removed, unless the recycler you are employing offers services and procedures for complete data sanitization. There are a number of manners in which your organization can wipe data from hard drives including:
• Degaussing or the use of a magnetic device to remove data• Overwriting data• Utilizing a program for data destruction
Whichever method you turn to, make sure that you double and triple check to make sure all data is fully removed prior to recycling. Additionally, it is important that you fully understand industry regulations surrounding data sanitation as set forth by regulatory bodies such as FACTA, HIPAA, Gramm-Leach-Bliley, SEC, DOD, and Surbanes-Oxley.
Quick Case Study: Recycle Your Media’s Data Eradication and Tape Refurbishing Process
As a prime example of a recycling organization completely sanitizes data held on data storage tape cartridges, we at Recycle Your Media have developed a proprietary process that eliminates all data. The process allows for reusable tapes to be resold to organizations at a discounted rate and keeps numerous tapes from being disposed of in landfills or incineration.
The RYM data erasure and refurbishing process includes four steps which include:
(1) Full data erasure from pin to hub with magnetic degauss power 10 times stronger than a standard drive that meets all data elimination and data security requirements(2) The entire tape surface is cleaned, the media pack exercised & precision retentioned and the tape edge is laser scanned and evaluated for quality(3) The tape is fully evaluated for perfect performance(4) Fully working tapes are then resold to organizations
All recycling procedures take place at our headquarters and our data eradication processes are in keeping with all major industry regulatory bodies. We are proud to keep all of our operations in the USA, while providing our service internationally.
US Environmental & Recycling Resources
The following are a number of resources that can help you gain a well-rounded understanding of your recycling options. You can also feel free to call our offices at 949-757-0100 during regular hours to ask questions and for further guidance:
Our Statistics Page - This page gives many diverse figures about our work here at Recycle Your Media and about e-waste in general
Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) (1st link on the left) – This tool helps organizational purchasers in the public and private sectors compare and evaluate various electronics including computers/laptops and monitors for their environmental friendliness.
Design for the Environment Program – The organization offers electronics manufacturers the opportunity to test and have their products labeled as healthy for the environment. Search their database to choose products that are eco-friendly.
Energy Star (2nd link on the left) – An organization that promotes and reveals energy efficient electronics.
WasteWise Program – Helps private and public organizations set recycling goals and meet them.
Responsible Recycling Practices – Find out how your organization can be audited and provided certification for being an official electronics recycler. You can also find certified recycling services within its database.
Federal Electronics Challenge Federal Electronics Challenge (3rd link on the left) - Questions to Ask a Recycler – Read over these questions carefully so your staff knows what to look for in a recycling agency.
Frequently Asked Questions on E-Waste – Learn more about e-waste and the current state of the environment.
E-Cycling Central (4th link on the left) – Search for recycling firms in our state.