IT equipment recycling is rapidly becoming one of the largest issues in the whole recycling movement as economies, businesses, and even individuals move more and more toward becoming paperless.
One of the first steps in IT equipment recycling is the removal of data and software from the machine. There are four levels of security for data removal:
Level 1: Operating System FDISK and format the hard drive
Level 2: Third-Party Disk Utilities Deletion of data from the hard drive, followed by Level 1 procedures
Level 3: Department of Defense 5220.22-M Standard Compliant random writing of 1’s and 0’s across each sector and track seven times. This process meets the security needs of the Department of Defense.
Level 4: Total Hard Drive Destruction The drive’s plates and housing are completely physically crushed.
Data and software removal is one of the most important steps in IT equipment recycling, because the equipment is more often recycled than destroyed. For example, machines that are obsolete by current standards can often be refurbished and used in programs to provide computers to the underprivileged.
IT equipment recycling can even be practiced at home by refilling ink cartridges, or sending them to recycling centers in the envelopes provided with the cartridges, or cannibalizing an old computer for spare parts for a newer one. Creative individuals have turned used CDs into everything from place mats to spindle whorls. Floppy disks have been used to make messenger bags. American Express had an interesting way of IT Equipment Recycling. About once a year, they would offer machines they were no longer using to their employees at discount prices (once the data and software had been wiped and the hard drives reformatted). That way, they recouped some of the cost of purchasing the machines, did not have to pay haulage to have them removed or destroyed, and benefited their employees. Some computer manufacturers have carry outed asset recovery programs, offering a rebate on new buys based on what the manufacturer considers a fair price for the returned equipment.
Proper IT equipment recycling also involves checking with the local recycling or environmental agency for disposal and/or recycling guidelines, since older items often contain toxic materials. Old CRTs. for example, can contain up to four pounds of lead. Further, some states have outright bans on disposing of computer equipment in landfills, which means you cannot just dump them in the trash to be hauled away.
As shown above, IT equipment recycling can be done at many levels, from individual to major organization. With a bit of knowledge, and some measure of creativity, it is also one of the easiest types of recycling to carry out.