Retired electronic waste (e-waste) is one of the fastest growing environmental and human health threats we face today.

In 2019, the world generated 53.6 million metric tonnes of e-waste, a record high and an increase of more than 20% compared to five years prior, according to the Global E-Waste Monitor.

Improperly discarded e-waste is at a crisis level. However, it is often overlooked because e-waste represents just 2% of America’s trash, but accounts for 70% of the dangerous toxins entering our landfills and illegal dump sites including arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead, mercury and a host of others.

Additionally, e-waste also contains valuable raw materials that can be reprocessed (including gold, silver, stainless steel, etc.) that are essential to the supply chain. But they only make it back to the supply chain through recycling – and that isn’t happening enough.

“This means that gold, silver, copper, platinum and other high-value, recoverable materials conservatively valued at US $57 billion—a sum greater than the Gross Domestic Product of most countries—were mostly dumped or burned rather than being collected for treatment and reuse,” the E-Waste report said.

Waste is Only One Part of the Problem

For businesses, beyond the damage to the environment caused by poor e-waste management, their retired electronics are also full of sensitive customer and organizational data that is a grave threat to their bottom line if not destroyed following recognized best-practices.

In fact, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) which is responsible for enforcing the “Disposal Rule” requiring companies to dispose of personally identifiable information on computer hard drives or other digital media, may enforce penalties up to $1,000 for every affected record from data breach emanating from a forgotten device. These fines can quickly add up to millions of dollars.

Fortunately, protecting your organization and reputation against these threats is simple…just choose a Certified Recycler.

Cobalt was among the earliest certified electronics recyclers in the nation. Now, after nearly a decade of e-waste recycling and IT asset disposition, Cobalt has joined the TERRA network of certified recyclers. TERRA’s mission to make electronics recycling more accessible to all by connecting people and businesses to certified recyclers, aligns with the reasons Cobalt was founded.

TERRA’s 7 Criteria for Selecting an ITAD Partner

TERRA President & CEO Steven Napoli recommends that businesses looking for IT asset disposition consider these seven critical items:

Certification

When considering an ITAD partner to decommission your businesses IT assets, ONLY e-Stewards & R2 Certified service providers can be trusted to provide sustainable equipment remarketing and end-of-life recycling services along with verifiable data destruction. These Certified Recyclers are required to demonstrate to an accredited, independent third-party auditor that they meet specific standards to safely recycle and manage electronics which is essential to protecting your reputation and bottom line.

Capacity

Whether you operate from a single location or have a geographic footprint that stretches across thousands of locations, TERRA has you covered. Representing the largest network of Certified Recyclers in North America, by connecting with TERRA, you can be assured your diverse ITAD needs will be satisfied by solutions experts that are in good standing with one or both e-waste certification bodies and will mitigate the high-cost of logistics by offering local and/or regional service partners.

Knowledge

Currently, 25 states and the District of Columbia have enacted legislation establishing e-waste recycling requirements. Navigating this complex tapestry of laws, rules and regulations requires knowledge to protect your organization’s reputation and bottom line. Only Certified Recyclers are acknowledged by the industry as credentialed experts.

Process

From onsite collection, transport, inventory audit and data destruction to device remarketing and/or end-of-life recycling, delivering an efficient ITAD program requires a flexible, sustainable, and transparent process. TERRA’s Certified Recyclers make ongoing investments in employee training, onsite security, data destruction equipment, asset tracking systems, etc., giving their clients peace of mind and insight into the status of their assets.

Integrity

You expect that the sensitive and valuable assets you entrust to your ITAD solutions provider will be handled in a responsible and ethical manner. So, you should demand more than just talk about trust. Integrity must be demonstrated. It starts with choosing a Certified Recycler that is committed to meeting their obligations to adhere to high standards. You should also expect transparency – which includes detailed service quotes, reasonable timelines, and robust reporting.

Transparency

Your ITAD partner must have a strong internal system to generate accurate and timely audit/inventory reports, Certificates of Destruction (COD), settlement reports, etc., that let you know the equipment given to them has been disposed in a certified and scientific manner. This is a necessary part of the ITAD process and will help you maintain proper records and insulate your businesses from liability for data breach and improper disposal of e-waste.

Economics

Many organizations simply view their retired electronics as clutter, so they fall into the trap of comparing solutions based on cost alone. What’s worse is when they are lured by unscrupulous, non-certified operators that provide no protection from the liability inherent in their equipment. The experienced IT asset manager knows the value that Certified Recyclers offer and their process for delivering an efficient and intelligent disposition of retired assets which maximizes ROI and mitigates risk.

This blog includes contributions from Steven Napoli, President & CEO of TERRA. Find out more about electronics recycling & ITAD services available through Cobalt’s partnership with TERRA at donewithit.org/cobalt