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Posted May 29th, 2019

How to Find a Responsible E-Waste Partner

How many times have you upgraded your smartphone over the last 5 years? If you’re an average tech enthusiast, chances are, at least 3 or 4 times. Because according to Wirefly, an average smartphone user gets a new one every 18 months.

As it turns out, people seldom think twice before buying the latest gadgets. But it comes as no surprise — we’re at the peak of a burgeoning digital age. And tech companies are launching new products faster than ever.

This is great news for consumers, but it puts us amid a huge pile of electronic waste. Recent data shows that almost 20 million TVs are trashed every year in the US alone. And in the case of cell phones, it is more than 100 million. What’s even more alarming is that only 13% of such electronic waste is managed efficiently.

The state of e-waste management

The rate at which such waste is piling up is very troublesome. Even more so because these contain dangerous chemicals. Lead, beryllium, cadmium, mercury and other brominated flame retardants to name a few. The bigger the pile, the deeper the contamination of air, soil, and water caused by these chemicals.

Clearly, there needs to be an immediate action plan to bring this under control. As a company, this means that you must start at the workplace. You need to find better ways to dispose and recycle e-waste safely and efficiently. In fact, the law requires that you do. Failure to comply with these requirements will lead to serious consequences.

So the inevitable need of the hour is a reliable e-waste partner. There are many companies out there that make false claims. That’s why you need to choose wisely and find one that is genuine and well-versed in compliance standards.

Let’s take the case of Total Reclaim for example. Total Reclaim was supposedly the largest e-waste recycler of Pacific Northwest. But in November 2018, they pleaded guilty to wire fraud.

They had been collecting waste and charging companies for “environmentally safe” recycling. In reality, they were sending large amounts of flat-screen monitors to Hong Kong. Think of the amount of mercury affecting the people and the environment!

There are millions of other cases with such fraudulent re-cycling partners, which is why it’s important to exercise a keen eye when choosing an e-waste partner. Here are a few pointers to keep in mind.

Pick a certified e-waste recycler

A good way to start your search would be to pick only certified partners. R2 certification (sometimes referred to as responsible recycling certification) is a company level certification based on the R2 standard overseen by the R2 Technical Advisory Committee (TAC). The standard is described as “Responsible Recycling (“R2″) Practices for Use in Accredited Certification Programs for Electronics Recyclers”. The standard requires certified companies to have a policy on managing used and end-of-life electronics equipment, components and materials based on strategies such as reuse, materials and energy recovery and/or disposal.

The R2:2013 Standard is the latest version of R2, the electronics recycling industry’s leading certification. Each provision of the R2 Standard is designed to help ensure the quality, transparency, and environmental and social responsibility, of R2 Certified electronics recycling facilities.

Hundreds of recycling facilities are R2 Certified. Whether you are an organization with a large number of units, another recycler looking for a partner, or an individual needing to drop off an old device, SERI’s directory can help you locate a recycler to handle your material responsibly.

Know your needs

This might seem like an obvious one. But this is more important than you think. Once you approach a recycler they will most likely need the details of your e-waste. Right down to the numbers.

So you need to know everything about every aspect of your e-waste needs. What are the sources of e-waste in your company? What is the volume of waste produced in a week or a month? What are the different kinds of waste produced?

Do they include mostly monitors and laptops? Or are they mostly batteries, wires, and cords? All this is important as recyclers charge differently based on the items.

Ask about data security

Another thing to consider is the security of all the data contained in the devices you plan on recycling. They may contain a lot of sensitive information pertaining to your company. So you want to make sure that they are not being misused in any way.

Ask your e-waste partner in detail about their data destruction policy. They may adopt different ways including data wiping, shredding and degaussing. Some of them even offer a certificate of hard drive destruction. This provides a printed assurance of destruction of confidential information. Alternatively, you could also add a clause in your contract for the same.

The right amount of trust and reliability can be built through personal meetings. So make sure that you meet your partner and talk about things clearly.

If you need help finding a reputable e-waste partner, get in touch with our experts to know what your options are. We will be more than happy to help you play your part in creating a safer digital world.

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