Only a tiny portion (17%) of IT assets undergo recycling on an annual basis. Billions of dollars are being wasted on the account of leaving these valuable resources at landfills instead of recycling them. Still, recycling is often seen as a last-ditch effort due to its complexity. This has to do with the composition of the IT equipment pieces which often feature a mixture of materials (plastic, precious metals) that need to be sorted out and properly managed to be put to the best use.
Now, what are the ways of making this process more secure, considering that these valuable materials often pose an environmental and/or financial risk?
The initial cost appraisal for hardware deployment most often fails to include the cost of retiring these assets in the future. Yet, knowing the right cost of data cleaning, decommissioning, and retiring in advance can spare you some major troubles down the line. Planning for the IT asset retirement from the outset can protect you against unexpected costs when the inevitable retirement time comes.
Data sanitization is one of the key considerations in preparing for the secure handling of IT assets. This means that regular formatting or factory resets will not cut it today, as sensitive data can be recovered with the help of specialized software. Pay attention to the relevant standards that govern the best industry practices. Also, bear in mind that keeping the retired components clean is usually mandated under contemporary privacy regulations.
The fastest way to mess up or prolong the IT asset retirement process is to do it without proper planning. The best approach to avoiding this is to set down proper policies that will define all aspects of logistical processes, storage handling, and reporting. To protect these policies from becoming a dead letter, they need to be properly updated and communicated to all relevant personnel.
Even the best-laid plans and policies can fail you if the personnel in charge of implementing them is not familiar with the latest standards in the safe disposal of retired IT assets. The best approach to this is to design and implement a regularly updated education program focused solely on the security of the associated processes. Even non-specialist personnel should be familiarized with the basics of secure retirement of electronic and IT devices.
If you have a thorough data sanitization procedure in place which can be supported with a proper certificate, your IT assets can be remarketed just as well. Compared with recycling, this option is cheaper but much of its success will depend on finding the right partner that can allow you to recover at least some of the costs of the asset disposal.
Each successful asset disposal procedure starts from the day on which a new piece of hardware is installed at your facility. Securing this process properly means that each item should be made trackable from the moment it is put in a disposal bag. This is done by giving it an appropriate tag or a barcode to keep it visible during complex transport operations.
Finally, the level of security you’ll manage to achieve in this process will depend much on the strength of all the links in this chain. One of its strongest (or weakest) points is the choice of the partner provider to follow you on this important journey. Make sure you check their credentials, records, certificates, and dedication to the circular economy before you pick out the best one.