Three Ways to Get a Handle on E-Waste

An Earth-friendly strategy for recycling and disposing of IT assets, along with moving to a cloud-based backup system, sets your company on a greener, more secure path. It can also boost the bottom line. 

The 46th Annual Earth Day takes place on April 22, at which time we’ll celebrate the gifts of Mother Earth. However, as many people in business now know, Earth Day is every day if your firm is on the green side of life and disposes of e-waste properly. 

If your workplace’s green efforts actually resemble many shades of gray, consider developing an e-waste and IT asset disposition strategy along with hard drive and tape destruction. These initiatives can:

  • Support the environment
  • Boost your bottom line
  • Prevent toxic materials from entering the ecosystem
  • Enhance your data-security and compliance profile
  • Reduce your company’s carbon footprint and reduce energy costs

FAST FACT: Since 2003, 9 out of 10 Canadian provinces have adopted electronics recycling laws.

DID YOU KNOW? A U.N. study predicts that global e-waste volumes are expected to balloon from 48.9 million metric tons in 2012 to 65.4 million in 2017—that’s equivalent in volume to 200 Empire State Buildings.

A Green Partnership Creates New Possibilities

Consider this trio of best practices when you’re looking to paint your company a darker shade of green. 

Best Practice #1: Retire IT equipment.

Don't just dump old PCs, servers and other e-waste in the trash. Improperly disposing of hardware can leak harmful metals and other toxins into the environment, affecting water supply, soil and air quality. To protect the public against these toxins, many provinces have specific laws about electronics recycling.

Look for an IT recycling or refurbishing provider certified under the e-Stewards program to ensure that it is following industry best practices and providing you with certification. In addition, look for a partner able to provide complete security and tracking of your assets. The partner should also be able to ensure that it can wipe your firm’s sensitive data from any media according to erasure procedures that adhere to Environment Canada and Standards Council of Canada standards.

You may find that your electronic garbage is someone else’s treasure trove of interesting data. Look into programs that buy old computer systems and other used IT assets. Instead of treating IT asset retirement as an ongoing cost, you may be able to generate some unexpected revenue—all while reducing your disposal cost. 

Best Practice #2: Adopt an Earth-safe hard drive and tape destruction process.

Your safe-disposal practices must extend to media such as tapes, disk drives and electronic storage cards. A trusted partner assists with the process and helps ensure your compliance with federal, state and local data-handling and disposal regulations and assists.

By safely destroying old media, you reduce risks that data could escape—possibly causing legal and PR headaches. Saving the Earth is good policy, but you also want to protect your company. Take a look at these statistics from a January 2015 Ponemon Institute survey:

  • 23 percent of IT professionals say it can take up to two years to recover from a data breach
  • 5 percent say it can take even longer

Iron Mountain Suggests: Get Hard Cash From a Green Plan

Being good to the Earth can put money into your company’s pocket. Iron Mountain’s IT Asset Remarketing offers money back for many categories of old and obsolete equipment. As part of our portfolio of reclamation options, we:

  • Offer cash payments for recycled IT assets such as desktop PCs, laptops, servers, mainframes, printers, phones and consumer electronics.
  • Perform secure data destruction services on all assets traded in. They’re scrubbed clean of all your information.

  • Conduct environmentally responsible recycling and disposal of equipment not eligible for resale or salvage.

Best Practice #3: Consider moving to the cloud.

Cloud storage is opening new opportunities. Many companies are wasting kilowatts of electricity by running their own data centers inefficiently. Moving to cloud backup services might be a significant energy saver. 

North American businesses could reduce IT energy expenditures by as much as 87 percent if they moved key applications to the cloud, according to a 2013 cloud efficiency study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Such a shift could save upwards of 23 billion kilowatt-hours annually—enough to power major city for a year. In addition to reducing your electricity bill, you’d also reduce your company’s carbon footprint: a definite win-win.

It’s just smart business to explore green options for your company. By reducing disposal costs and reducing your carbon footprint, your company can also do some good for the planet.

Do you have questions about data management? Read additional Knowledge Center stories on this subject, or contact Iron Mountain’s Data Management team. You’ll be connected with a knowledgeable product and services specialist who can address your specific challenges.