Given the new administration's push for energy efficiency and other "green" initiatives, it's not suprising that many companies are refocusing their equipment recycling efforts. But as of now, there is no all-encompassing federal mandate in the U.S. that addresses e-waste. It's up to each state how end-of-life electronics are handled.
Large tech companies have buy-back or collection processes in place so their customers aren't left holding useless equipment. IBM, for instance, directs customers to various state Web sites for guidance regarding proper disposal of their IBM-labeled e-waste.
Washington State points Web site visitors to appropriate e-waste collection sites according to their counties of residence. It may be Office Depot, Goodwill or some other retailer. California provides a wealth of information for consumers and certified waste recyclers alike. And if your state has not yet mandated an e-waste recycling program, the IBM page tells you that, and suggests contacting city or county government for their guidance on proper disposal.
Processor.com addresses the equipment recycling issue for SMBs with these helpful tips:
- Consider outsourcing. Writer Elizabeth Millard says simply, "It's usually preferable to stick to the experts on this one." They know how to properly wipe data from the machines and it's their job to keep up with state and local requirements regarding how to properly dispose of all the machine components.
- Reaserch the outsourcer. Redemtech president Bob Houghton tells Processor, "The customer needs to know what they want in a recycling program before they start talking to vendors." Find out where the machines are stored and shipped, how much liability coverage they have, and whether you'll get a portion of any resale profit.
- Don't forget maintenance contracts and power consumption. Once a machine is "taken off the network," Millard says, check to make sure that machine is physically unplugged from the wall. And be sure that it is no longer covered in your company's maintenance contracts. Why pay for maintenance on a machine you no longer have?
- Know what the equipment is worth. Sometimes it can be refurbished and resold or donated to a non-profit group.
Even more interesting than how the equipment is collected for disposal or recycling, though, is just exactly what those recyclers do with the components once they get them. And how do they manage to keep up with the different requirements of each state? These are things I'm looking into. Join the discussion.