A Haven For Old Tape Media

Recycle Your Media Buys Data Tapes & Then Inspects & Tests Them For Refurbishing Or Disposal

Where do old tapes go when they die? Unfortunately, a lot of them go to landfills before they die. That’s because most people throw them away long before their usefulness ends. But Recycle Your Media is here to change that. The privately owned, 25-employee company in Newport Beach, Calif., has been working to keep e-waste out of the environment since 2005.

The company buys data tape media from companies when they are out of archive or no longer in use, inspects and refurbishes them, and resells them as an eco-friendly and cost-saving option to purchasing new tape. It also recycles tapes that no longer have any resale value. Its whole premise is to keep e-waste out of landfills, because tapes that have been written to once are not trash; they’re tapes that can be written to more than 1 million times. “We save the environment by keeping the used media out of landfills and not only recoup initial IT expense, but also save customers money on equivalent-to-new media,” says Brian Musil, Recycle Your Media’s founder and acquisitions manager (www.recycleyourmedia.com).

Musil says the company sells 50,000 to 100,000 pieces of media each month. Generating several million in revenue each year since its inception, “I thought this would be a good niche,” Musil says. “It’s green, and it’s also technologically and economically sound, so it’s kind of a no-brainer.”

Tape Bids

Recycle Your Media performs tape audits for potential sellers and gives them an offer for what it will pay for the seller’s tape. The offer includes the cost of freight and destruction for any tape that isn’t reusable. Recycle Your Media customers can also get offers through the company’s Web site, which allows them to select what type of tape media they have to sell and sends a request for an offer to sell to Recycle Your Media. The company has five salespeople who call on potential customers or repeat customers, although it also works with e-waste recyclers and shredding companies that buy old tapes from companies that don’t want them anymore.

Musil says the company works primarily with resellers and has about 350 clients that it regularly buys and sells from. About 20% of those customers are overseas, primarily in Europe and South America. But the bulk of Recycle Your Media’s business comes from North America. “We’re trying to grow that international business, because they’re a little more green-conscious in Europe,” Musil says. “In fact, those customers will sometimes accept nothing in return just to know that their tapes will be reused.”

When it comes to selling product, Recycle Your Media primarily works with resellers and dealers. “We get tapes directly from end users, so we work with IT managers, but we also get a lot from e-waste recyclers and shredding companies,” he says. For example, Recycle Your Media might work a deal with another company that buys a client’s unwanted electronics. Recycle Your Media buys the tape from the company, excluding tapes that have to be shredded because of security concerns.

The company requires a minimum of at least 50 tapes to make a deal, but some customers have 10,000 or more. “We sometimes tell customers they can get a credit toward new tape if they sell their old tape to us,” he says.

Musil says that the company sells far more tape to dealers than to end users. On the other hand, it buys far more tape from end users than from dealers or resellers. Musil says that while 95% of its selling goes to dealers and 5% to its end users, 90% of its tape purchases comes from end users, and the remainder comes from recycling companies and dealers.

Inspect & Test

The tape Recycle Your Media buys goes to its facility, where each tape is inspected, tested, and either accepted for resale or rejected based on certain criteria. The data is then eradicated. “Tapes will not pass our testing unless they have zero fatal errors, permanent errors, gross errors, and server track errors,” Musil says. “We run media on an RFID scanner, which will tell us the actual usage of the tape and whether it is near its end of life.”

Musil says that the company’s reputation rests on its testing of every single tape, which not even the original manufacturers of that tape can do, and on its willingness to reject certain tapes based on criteria such as cosmetic damage and errors. “We probably trash about 20% of the tape that comes through our doors,” Musil says. “What people don’t understand is that the tape that they don’t use more than once is engineered to last much longer.”

The company also does data destruction for the tapes it buys. “We abide by and meet or exceed both HIPAA and DoD (Department of Defense) standards,” Musil says. “We offer full chain of custody so that the customer will always know where the media is from pickup to eradication, and we take a serial number log at the customer site so that we can produce a log of each tape that has been through data eradication to verify each tape has been cleared. At times, we have eradicated data onsite at the customer’s location for clients whose data is very sensitive.”

Create Awareness

Musil says the current state of the economy has actually brought new business to Recycle Your Media, as has the green aspect of reusing tape rather than letting it go to a landfill when it’s still usable. But to create more awareness of those opportunities, Musil says that the company’s immediate goals include expanding its sales force. Discussing the advantage of certified tape is far more effective face-to-face, he says, and a bigger sales team could do a lot more in that area.

The company will also be expanding on its delivery of other services, such as audits (which let companies know what their tape inventory actually is), data recovery and conversion, and labeling and reinitialization.

Musil says the company’s No. 1 challenge is communicating to the marketplace that used tape is not only economical, it’s also reliable. Sometimes potential end users have tried used (or certified or resold) tape before and haven’t had a good experience, which is why Musil is quick to tout his company’s processes for certifying the reliability of its resold tape.

“We inspect our tapes for usage, and we check for mechanical problems like loose screws or hubs,” he says. “We also offer free samples of our tape to anyone so they can check it out and see for themselves that it’s reliable, and we have a 90-day money-back guarantee and a lifetime warranty. When people see that it’s reliable, and that it can be a 50% cost savings over new tape, they’re usually very interested.”

Written by Holly Dolezalek