When you think of electronics recycling, the first things that come to mind are probably computers, phones, and televisions, which isn’t surprising—they’re items that we know we shouldn’t throw away and are often the ones we let pile up in storage.
However, peripheral IT equipment and electronics (the components connected to computers or phones, for example) frequently get thrown out even though they can and should also be recycled.
With massive amounts of e-waste being generated globally every year and the high fines and data security risks that come with failing to recycle electronics, you’ll want to dispose of the following items properly:
1. Printers, Copiers, and Fax Machines
These devices are especially important to recycle, as they contain materials that are hazardous if leaked. When these items are thrown out, they often still contain the ink cartridges inside—in fact, 375 million ink cartridges are thrown away each year, which greatly increases the chances that the volatile organic compounds they contain will make it into the soil or water supply. You should take these items to a trusted e-recycler so they can recycle or repurpose the materials inside.
Beyond the potential negative impacts on the environment, these devices contain your data, so throwing them out puts your sensitive information at risk. Printers, copiers, and fax machines all have memory, which allows them to print faster, handle complex documents, or create other efficiencies. Copiers and scanners are particularly concerning when it comes to data, as they have hard drives that store images of copied or scanned documents.
While there are several ways to clear memory from these devices, the data can still be recovered, putting your personal information or business’s confidential documents at risk. When your business needs to upgrade or dispose of peripheral IT equipment, talk to an e-recycler that offers IT asset disposition and secure data destruction to ensure your data gets completely wiped or destroyed.
2. Media Storage Devices
It can be tempting to erase files on flash drives, SD cards, or external hard drives and let them pile up in storage or dispose of them yourself. Discarded CDs are also increasingly a problem, as millions become obsolete and make it into landfills each year.
Even though many storage devices are no longer being used as businesses are moving to cloud-based media storage solutions, hackers and others can still access your data easily if it’s left on the device or not properly destroyed. In fact, a flash drive stolen from one healthcare center contained the personal information and Social Security numbers of nearly 2,000 individuals, putting all of them at risk for identity theft or other issues.
Instances like these highlight the importance of keeping your data secure even on a small, remote device and securely disposing of media storage devices once they’ve become obsolete. Taking these items to an NIST and NAID-certified e-recycling partner that offers certificates of destruction and assumes liability for your data ensures your data remains secure.
3. Network Equipment, Cords, and Computer Accessories
Routers, cables, and power supplies are easy to discard without a second thought at end of life or when they’re no longer working. But, they often contain metals that can leach into and pollute the soil. Computer peripherals such as keyboards and mice contain flame retardants that easily seep into landfills, mix with rainwater or soil, or release dangerous chemicals when incinerated. Taking computer accessories to an e-recycler is a way to give back to the environment and is cost-effective. The cost of recycling these items is generally low, and e-recyclers can sometimes salvage the metals inside cords and other equipment, which helps offset the cost of disposing of the items.
IT Asset Disposition and Remarketing
Peripheral IT equipment and accessories don’t always need to be completely broken down or destroyed. Often, they can be refurbished and remarketed, mitigating recycling costs or even helping you generate a profit.