Electronic waste (or e-Waste) is one of the biggest environmental problems we’re facing today. With today’s ever-evolving tech innovations, the only certainty is that nothing will stay the same.
According to a UN Report, a record 53.6 million metric tonnes of e-Waste is reported generated worldwide in 2019 – up 21% in five years. To put it into perspective, that’s the weight of 350 cruise ships the size of the Queen Mary 2. And more so, the report found that only 17.4% of 2019’s e-waste was formally collected and recycled, leaving more than 82% of it essentially unaccounted for.
Do you really know what happens to your e-Waste after it leaves the safety of your hands? What happens to your information on those data-storing devices? And have you ever wondered where your e-Waste really ends up?
Not only is it a health and environmental hazard if disposed of incorrectly, e-Waste typically contains a lot of confidential and private information left on the retired computer, server, laptop or mobile phone. Hence why these items should be disposed of safely, securely and responsibly and never discarded in general or kerbside waste.
Why is e-Waste destruction and recycling important?
Credit card numbers, personal details of clients, their contact information, saved passwords and plenty more incredibly sensitive information, if exposed can not only compromise your business operations, but breach data protection laws (like the GDPR) fining your business. In extreme cases, this can cost millions – enough to bankrupt.
Simply erasing data before disposal won’t ensure the security and complete removal of this information. Serious consideration needs to be given to how you dispose of your unwanted electronics securely, responsibly and compliantly.
Furthermore, e-Waste contains toxic additives or hazardous substances such as mercury, lead and flame retardants which can cause damage to the human brain and central or peripheral nervous system. Batteries in laptops and mobile phones can also leak dangerous chemicals into the environment causing environmental hazards.
Free e-Waste Recycling Centres vs Secure Destruction Facilities
Many local government councils and community organisations offer free disposal for electronics at designated waste and recycling centres. On a smaller scale, national telecommunication chains run free recycling programs offering a drop off service and incentive for unwanted devices.
It may seem to offer the ideal solution – free and convenient – perfect right?
Well unfortunately, not always, as proven by several global studies revealing that the ultimate destination of many free e-Waste disposal schemes, are all too often unlicensed and unregulated recycling facilities, or even offshore. A UN funded study by the Basel Action Network on Scam Recycling revealed that nearly 40% of US e-waste was exported illegally. Researchers placed radio tracking devices in a number of electronics that were sent to certified recycling facilities and then tracked their journey.
The vast majority of the gadgets ended up in developing countries, most of them in Asia. Once there, the e-Waste was often processed in unsafe facilities or even outdoor scrap yards where workers were handling the devices without protective gear of any kind. In the process, they are exposed to mercury, nickel, and other toxic materials.
A protection measure when disposing of your no-longer-useful electronic items, is to use a secure destruction facility where your e-Waste is guaranteed to be safely and compliantly disposed of, recycled or repurposed. It’s vital to make sure any electronic items and IT assets you wish to dispose of cannot compromise you, your business, your customers or your employees.
At Shred-X we can ensure that any electronic item that may have held sensitive data is destroyed through the most certified and secure process. This means the device is 100% unrecoverable, protecting your customers and keeping your business privacy law compliant while adhering to your environmental sustainability responsibilities.
For a legally compliant, ethical and safeguard guaranteed solution to e-Waste, trust the experts. To learn more about Shred-X e-Waste secure destruction and recycling solutions, visit our e-Waste webpages or chat to the Shred-X team today.