Getting New Tech Is Great. How Do You Properly Throw Away Your Old Technology?

Throwing away your old technology is great – but it can be dangerous if you do not properly dispose of it. I’ve asked Shelley Zimmer, WW Environmental Leadership Program Manager, HP to share her insight about it.

This spring and summer, if you’re thinking about revamping your office or investing in new technology, remember to keep two things in mind—the environment and your business’ security. If you’ve weighed your options and upgrading your current technology with new solutions isn’t a possibility, it’s essential that you remove sensitive data from devices and meet environmental goals when trading out the old for the new.

Why? Because technology hardware often contains customer account details, private records and proprietary data—sensitive information that, if handled inappropriately, could expose you to legal liability and other damages. Further, most technology hardware contains substances that can impact the environment, and their disposal should be handled responsibly.

With this in mind, here are three tips for securely and environmentally disposing of your office’s technology:

Think security first.

The first step in disposing of hardware: back up your data. Whether you’re letting go of a printer, laptop, PC or mobile phone, ensure that the data you’re about to destroy is easily accessible elsewhere if needed. This can be done through backup programs or a manual backup, like saving information to an external hard drive.

After backing up your data, there are several options for securely removing information from hardware. When working with PCs and laptops, there are some free programs for safely removing data, but you can also check with the technology manufacturer about safely removing information. Vendors and technology providers typically offer services such as shredding and degaussing.

Shredding is the most secure way to destroy hard drive information. This method actually destroys the equipment via a hard drive shredder—if you choose this option, check to ensure that the service provider recycles the materials after destruction. Another option for securely removing data from hardware is through degaussing. Magnetic drives like hard drives are destroyed by this process, which removes and reduces the magnetic field of a drive, destroying the data on the device.

 Don’t forget about environmental impact.

When getting rid of technology, you should consider the environmental impact. If at all possible, avoid letting your old technology end up in a landfill. There are plenty of recycling options that technology manufacturers and environmental programs offer.

But remember: being conscious of the environment is more than just recycling your shredded or degaussed technology! There are other forms of recycling, like hardware buyback, trade-in and donation programs. Through these services, you can donate hardware like PCs, monitors, printers, cameras, smartphones and more to non-profit organizations and schools. Manufacturers and retailers also offer buyback programs for small-to medium-sized businesses, where you can get cash back for your old technology, and the technology will either be recycled or donated.

Lastly, remember to recycle the supplies that go along with technology, like paper and printer cartridges.

What’s next? After you’ve taken all the necessary steps to safely, securely and environmentally dispose of your old technology; consider investing in new hardware that will reduce your environmental impact. The green features of today’s technology will help you reach your environmental goals and save you money. Look for products that offer Energy-Star qualification. These ratings will give you an idea of a device’s environmental impact.

Shelley Zimmer is the worldwide environmental leadership program manager of printing supplies at Hewlett-Packard. Shelley’s projects include influencing product design for future environmental features and communicating environmental attributes of products to consumers. Her interest is to move consumers to purchase products that are better for the environment.


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