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Beware of free collections

Beware of free collections

Totally free of charge always sounds appealing, but it could mean disaster when disposing of redundant IT equipment. Despite the obvious attraction of the free collection, it could be a costly exercise and also result in disaster.

Once the equipment is collected, one has no control over where it ends up. It could easily end up in the hands of con merchants like phishing criminals or hackers.

Although the majority of recycling companies have perfectly ethical intentions, they don’t always have the qualification, skills or expertise to dispose of IT equipment.

One could well be breaking data protection laws, which are very stringent nowadays and impose massive financial penalties over and above the potential disastrous corporate PR that leaked personal data can engender.

Even worse, the hazardous metals in the hardware itself could end up on illegal dumping grounds but could still be traced back to the organisation. The bottom line is that one’s organisation could end up as headline news for all the wrong reasons.

Many recycling companies that offer computer disposal services claim that they are licenced to collect or even recycle. It is important to check if your service provider is registered with the provincial government to transport hazardous waste.

Xperien CEO Wale Arewa said it is critical that you use fully qualified and accredited disposal and recycling experts. “There are a number of basic requirements and information one should request before partnering with any IT recycling company,” he said.

“An increasing number of government regulations, industry standards and internal risk mitigation policies require organisations to sanitise storage media prior to disposal or reuse. There are numerous destruction options that guarantee privacy and also ensure a company’s reputation will not be compromised,” he explained.

Whether data destruction is done through software erasure, hard drive shredding or degaussing, a certificate of data destruction must be provided to validate the quality of service. A Certificate of Data Destruction is an assurance that every possible measure was taken to safely and securely eradicate and destroy all data compliant with Government and industry regulations.

Although not a legal requirement, reputable IT recycling companies should provide an asset report with a detailed breakdown of equipment collected. Secure reverse logistics with a chain of custody should be provided for each item containing a hard drive and daily trend reporting must be included so that undesirable trends can be identified before they become critical.

Free Collection companies make their money through a number of resale channels including selling obsolete equipment to developing countries, refurbishing less obsolete equipment and offering it for resale on markets like Gumtree & OLX or stripping down the hardware and selling the various metals to the scrap metal industry.



About The Author

SADC Correspondent

SADC correspondents are independent contributors whose work covers regional issues of southern Africa outside the immediate Namibian ambit. Ed.