The Top Five Things to Remember When Recycling Old Technology

It may seem like yesterday when your organization deployed several hundred laptops, but now is time to do it again.  What do you do with all those old laptops?  Or, maybe you are refreshing your routing and switching infrastructure.  What do you do with all that old equipment?  It may seem like the easy answer to take it all to the dumpster.  Not so fast.  You may be throwing away items that still have value, making some of your important data vulnerable, or it may even be against the law in some instances.  In this blog, we will cover 5 important items to consider when disposing of old equipment. Please note that the advice in this blog is not meant to supersede any local ordinances that you may need to follow!

  • PROPERLY CLEAR YOUR HARDWARE: That may seem like common sense, but it is no surprise that many items are disposed of with data on them. Depending on the work your organization does, you may have to have a certain level of data destruction before disposing of equipment.  This can be as simple as reformatting hard drives to complete destruction.  Make sure you know and understand the rules of your organization and whatever regulations you may held to.  At a minimum, reformat all hard drives and clear all RAM of data.  This will keep others from gathering your information.  You don’t want your donation to a local charity to contain your tax files from the last five years.  Another consideration should be device configuration.  It may not seem like a big deal, but device configuration can tell a lot about your organization.  It can contain everything from IP addresses to network layout.  You don’t want to give a potential hacker a head start!  Make sure you clear all configurations to factory default prior to disposal.
  • IT TAKES EFFORT TO DISPOSE OF OLD EQUIPMENT: This is an often overlooked item when budgeting for replacement equipment. It will most likely cost your organization time and money to go through the steps of proper disposal.  Whether handling it in-house or hiring another company to do it, it will cost you something.  Disposal may be included as part of a replacement plan, but most companies are just going to remove the equipment.  You will still need to ensure that it is clear of any data.  Think of these costs when planning for replacement, not after the pile of equipment is taking up space in your warehouse!
  • CASH IN: Many manufacturers will offer a rebate for turned in items. It isn’t usually much, but you will likely get something for an item you were going to throw away anyways and you don’t have to pay for disposal.  If the item is still serviceable, you may be able sell it on the secondary market.  You can even look towards eBay for some items.  Just keep in mind that it takes time and effort to get these items sold and it may not be worth the return.  Calculate that ROI carefully.
  • CONSIDER A CHARITABLE DONATION: There are many organizations that can use old equipment for various reasons. Maybe your church can use that old printer.  The local thrift store may want to resell those 200 laptops that are only 3 years old.  Make sure you get a receipt and properly document the donation.  These items are tax deductible in most cases and could save you or your business some serious dollars at tax time.
  • RECYCLE: Many communities host technology recycling events where items are gathered. Your local garbage dump may even have a special section for used technology items.  This helps keeps items out of landfills and being reused in new technology items.

In closing, I hope you will take all of the items discussed here into account when planning for technology refreshes within your organization.  If nothing else, you definitely want to be sure it is clear of your data!


jeremy-niedzwiecki-1A proven leader, Jeremy Niedzwiecki has over 20 years in the IT industry. As the Director of Customer Support at ABS, Jeremy works to ensure that the ABS Customer Support team continuously provides the highest levels of support possible ABS clients.