Recycling old computers and hardware

June 5, 2020

Upgrading your office equipment? Recycling old computers and IT equipment hardware.

Today is World Environment Day (June 5th), so we thought it would be a good time to talk about why recycling old computers, hardware and electronics is so important.

Electrical items should never be put in the rubbish bin. Businesses have a responsibility to ensure that old equipment is disposed of in a way that is safe for the environment. Electronics are filled with heavy metals and carcinogenic chemicals that are toxic and dangerous to both humans and the environment.

All businesses need to replace and update their office hardware as technology moves so fast. This also includes any IT and telecommunications equipment used as well as any IT peripherals like printers and monitors, batteries, cables and accessories. So to stop it all ending up in landfill businesses must take steps to ensure the proper disposal, treatment and recycling of thier e-waste.

What to do with your computer before recycling it

Your office computers hold all kinds of sensitive information, including customer data, financial information and company documents. You need to ensure that all sensitive information has been removed properly. You don’t want to leave any retrievable data on your computers or devices including documents and spreadsheets, photos and movies, email and messages.

Back up and delete your personal data

Firstly, before you dispose of any old computers it is important to completely remove any business or personal data from the hard drive.

Before recycling old computers, laptop or desktop, you should securely format the data. By just deleting data on a computer it is not fully gone and can be recovered using a number of sophisticated tools. All sensitive data should be deleted using the at least the industry standard DoD 5220.22-M data sanitization method or following the newer NIST SP 800-88 standard to ensure that it can’t be recovered.

Windows 10
Windows 10 has a built-in method for wiping your PC and restoring it to an ‘as new’ state.
Go to Start > Settings > Update & security > Recovery, click Get started and select the appropriate option.

Then follow the on-screen instructions to restore Windows 10 to a factory fresh state.


Mac

On a Mac, start up from macOS Recovery. Then select Disk Utility from the Utilities window and click Continue.

Linux
On a Linux, either use the DD command line utility or boot from a liveUSB of your favourite distro and wipe the hard drive securely. This is what we prefer to do when the clients leave their devices to us, to ensure that data is fully destroyed.

Backing up your files

Make sure that you have backed up all your files that you need to keep, before you start to do this. Choose a data storage option that is right for you. You can store them on an external hard drive such as the Transcend 2 TB Slim StoreJet or the SP Silicon Power 4TB Rugged Armor A60 Shockproof drive, USB sticks or cloud storage solutions.

Ultimately there are 3 things you can do to protect your data.
Delete all your data and factory reset your computer (DoD 5220.22-M or NIST SP 800-88 standard)
Remove the hard drive and keep it as an archive (or repurpose)
Remove the hard drive and physically destroy it (nail through the magnetic discs or the chip on SSDs)

“Whilst we continuously upgrade our clients with the best hardware for their needs there is always a time when we need to get rid of old hardware. We always sell what we can on behalf of our clients to return funds back into the company and safely and securely recycle everything that cannot be sold or repurposed.” – HelpDesk Hero Josh Lawrence.

Keep a note of your software documentation

If you need to reinstall any software from your old computer onto your new one, take down a note of the licence keys. You will be asked for these when you install paid-for software on a new computer or device. You have an option to migrate old accounts and settings onto a new laptop or workstation.

Due to potential incompatibilities between previous and new hardware, at HelpDesk Heroes we advise (and assist) to install everything from scratch. This way you have full control over what gets installed, versions, costs, etc. It’s the ideal time to do a little internal audit.

Recycling E-Waste and the law

Businesses who use computers, hardware and other electrical devices have a legal Waste Duty of Care when disposing of them. In the UK retailers have a legal responsibility to help you dispose of electronic items responsibly.

Under the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulations 2006 (the WEEE Regulations), producers and retailers are responsible for taking back and recovering or disposing of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) from businesses and householders.

If your business uses electrical or electronic equipment (EEE), under the WEEE Regulations you are required to;

1) store, collect, treat, recycle and dispose of WEEE separately from your other waste

2) obtain and keep proof that WEEE was given to an authorised waste management company, and was treated and disposed of in an environmentally sound way

Donate your old computers to a good cause

If you are a business with lots of computers that are still in good condition, it is a great idea to donate them. There are organisations and charities who will repair and recondition computers, phones and other devices.
Here are some organisations that will happily receive your old computers and hardware.

Computers for charities
IT For Charities
Turing Trust

Specialist E-Waste Recycling Companies

Even when a computer or piece of hardware is so old or broken that it cannot be reused, by recycling it means that valuable raw materials are recovered and any waste is disposed of in an environmentally responsible way.

Here are some companies that we recommend that will collect your ewaste and make that it is safely recycled.

Plunc Tech Recycling
Easy Recycling
Eco Green IT Recycling
Gigacycle

Helping the planet

So this year in recognition of World Environment Day when you are updating your IT equipment make sure that is recycled responsibly and minimise the impact of electrical and electronic goods on the environment.

 

Do you need help with your Office Move or IT Hardware updates?

If you need help or have any questions, call our dedicated team of Heroes. Our team will be happy to give you any advice and best possible solutions.

Tell us about your technical needs and we will recommend the ideal solution for you.

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