By Chris Keenan

Back in the olden days of the typewriter a middle-sized company could find itself producing tens of thousands of paper documents over the course of a trading year. Accounting reports, receipts and invoices usually needed to be held in storage for years to comply with various laws and regulations. Many other documents also found their way into the archives, such as contracts, letters and even simple memos. These archives would often grow to the point that they needed to be shipped off to warehouses so that the company could continue to do business without employees being impeded by the racks and boxes that housed the historic company records.

Then along came the server and its digital hard drive. A typical modern 1TB hard drive can permanently store 60 million A4 sized letters. If all those documents were printed then you would have a wad of paper more than 4 miles thick. It is no wonder that the business community jumped at the chance to leave behind their costly paper archive storage in favor of a less costly single room in their office filled with servers for digital archive storage.

It seems that we’ve now gone full circle and that many businesses have gone back to using massive warehouses to store their data. The big change is that these warehouses now have racks of servers and hard drive pods instead of racks of boxes filled with paper. It is not known exactly how many servers there are in the world, but data centers range in size from 50,000 servers to as many as 80,000 servers. It’s thought that Google & Facebook alone have millions of servers running 24 hours every day.

Relocating a server room to a shared data center can save a company thousands of dollars. With this saving in mind there are far fewer SME’s today that host servers on their own premises. You might think this move to data centers has drastically reduced the amount of IT hardware used in an office – but you’d be wrong. It turns out the amount of computer equipment used in the work place has continued to increase massively!

The device most frequently found in the office today is the desktop computer. There are over 87 million desktop computers being used by the U.S. workforce right now. Most of these desktops are replaced every 3 to 4 years, which would mean on average more than 50,000 computers, along with their screens, are disposed of every day!

Newtech Recycling is one of the first organizations on the East Coast created specifically to help the business community dispose of their desktop computers. Of course, it’s not just the computer Newtech disposes of. They will manage everything, including the screens and the computer peripherals (e.g. external drives, keyboards, mice, speakers, printers, scanners, racks, etc.).

Over 25 years Newtech has learned many lessons about desktop disposal. They can be summarized in the following 5 pieces of advice for any business choosing to recycle their IT hardware:

• Always have your company hard drives removed and shredded. The liabilities around digital privacy laws are now so high that it’s not worth taking any risks, whether the hard drives have data on them or not.

• After removing and shredding the hard drive, the rest of the desktop should be de-manufactured. It is much more difficult to separate materials from shredded computers with current technology, so choosing de-manufacturing is by far the most ecologically friendly method of recycling.

• Help your recycler as much as possible by sorting cables and computer peripherals into separate boxes. E-waste is managed and sorted by hand, and with 50 thousand computers being scrapped daily any help in organizing the materials before they get to the recycling facility makes the process more effective and efficient.

• If you can afford the service then ask to have your e-waste audited by its serial numbers and instruct your recycler to provide a serialized confirmation of the items recycled. This removes you from the chain of custody and transfers liabilities to the computer recycling company. It is a document that you should keep with other important company records.

• Finally, ask to see copies of the recycler’s R2 certification and any ISO or State accreditation. If a recycling company is not certified or unable to provide this level of assurance then don’t use them. You should ensure that your old office computers are recycled correctly, not just for environmental or ethical reasons but also for legal reasons.

I truly hope this article has helped, for more information about the disposal of desktop computers.