E-waste refers to the electronic products that are no longer wanted or reach the end of their first useful life. The problems of IT assets being irresponsibly disposed into landfills or dispositioned (ITAD) pose clear threats to clean air, water, and even soil quality – and a significant threat to people employed in its dismantling facilities, in addition to being a risk of compliance and data security.
According to the Global E-Waste Monitor report, the yearly e-waste generation surpassed 50 million Mt by 2020 and has a growth rate of 3-4%. This means its generation is at approximately 7kg per person. The report also showed that 76% of global e-waste has been undocumented in 2016, suggesting that it was either dumped, traded, or poorly recycled.
While e-waste poses clear challenges to societies, businesses, and policymakers, some initiative has been taken to manage it and its harm along with it, and at the same time delete data securely and responsibly.
On this subject, it is also important to understand the difference between data destruction and recycling. Data destruction means that the physical device is destroyed in addition to wiping it, making it impossible to recover or to reuse the device. This however does contribute to the problem while we struggle to find the balance between e-waste recycling and data destruction. Today, IT asset disposition (ITAD) is essential in transitioning ICT hardware toward the circular economy. In fact, selling old IT equipment to the manmade cycle is the solution for the issue of ITAD that gets tossed into landfills.
One of the most prominent ways to manage electronic waste is data erasure. Data erasure software enables this by securely erasing data stored in hard drives, personal computers, solid state drives, servers, and rack-mounted devices. Such devices can then be reused by exchanging, reselling, donating, reallocating, or by whatever way the owner chooses – as long as it is not being added to a growing mountain of e-waste or a generation stream.
Software such as BitRaser are commonly used for erasing storage media while securing that erased media is still safe to reuse or exchange, without having to worry about data leakage. Such software helps to fight the problem of e-waste by releasing them into secondary markets as used IT equipment. Such software also provides tamper-proof reports for audit trails to help businesses comply with SOX, HIPAA, EU-GDPR, GLB, and PCI-DSS. This majorly narrows the chance for leakage and misuse.
According to Dan Pritchard (CEO of IT asset lifestyle management provider, Greenbox) most of the e-waste produced in Australia do not get recycled despite the country being among the biggest consumers of technology. The good news, however, is that 95% of the country’s e-waste and old IT equipment can be reused – meaning that there is still time for Australia to do better and take more eco-conscious decisions.
You can help reducing e-waste now by purchasing your next refurbished MacBook Pro or MacBook Air here.