If you’re wondering what 44.7 million metric tons of e-waste looks like, the authors of The Global E-waste Monitor 2017 offer this comparison: roughly the equivalent of 4,500 Eiffel Towers. Colleges and universities undoubtedly contributed their share of IT equipment to that statistic, which represents the estimated amount of e-waste the world’s users had generated by 2016. Protecting data security, privacy and the environment can be daunting, so IT staff often let end-of-life systems pile up. These tips make it a snap to dispose of old equipment properly.
1. Wipe and Shred Old Hard Drives
Blancco offers free and commercial versions of Darik’s Boot and Nuke (DBAN) and Drive Eraser, which remove data from hard drives. The vendor offers strategy sessions for institutions, and the business software meets reporting and compliance requirements. Institutions typically outsource the destruction of wiped hard drives to hard drive shredders such as DataKillers, which operates nationwide.
2. Check for Manufacturer Takebacks
Most states and the District of Columbia have legislation requiring manufacturers to take back equipment that reaches end of life. In states without such laws, some manufacturers offer voluntary takebacks. Others (including Acer, Apple, Epson, HP and Samsung) let you return retired equipment by mail and at designated drop-offs. Also ask manufacturers about specific programs for higher education.
3. Recycle Old Tech
For the highest standards in e-recycling, look for certified e-Stewards, a designation developed by the Basel Action Network and the e-Stewards Founders to identify globally responsible recyclers. Certified e-Stewards comply with the ISO 14001 standard for global environmental management and help to safeguard against illegal dumping of hazardous waste in developing countries. For a list of e-Stewards near you, check their website.
4. Donate Used IT Equipment
Some nonprofits accept used IT equipment to resell to the public or reuse in-house. For example, Goodwill partners with Dell’s Reconnect program to take all brands of used computers and accessories. At the World Computer Exchange, volunteers refurbish equipment for young learners in developing countries. The Robert R. Taylor Network, which works to increase minorities’ participation in STEM and architecture fields, also accepts donations. Check for organizations in your area or ask your staff to find nonprofits they’d like to support with donated equipment.