Why your business needs to care about secure e-waste disposal

Updated 10 October 2018

 

E-waste is growing at a faster rate than any other type of waste in Australia and around the world. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the cumulative volume of televisions and computers reaching the end of their useful life is expected to reach 181,000 tonnes or 44 million units by 2027-28.

 

 

E-waste contains valuable precious resources including gold, steel, copper, zinc, aluminium and brass which can be recovered and recycled into new products. It is estimated that 6000 mobile phones can be recycled to regain 3.5 kilograms of silver, 340 grams of gold, 140 grams of palladium, and 130 kg of copper.

 

While recycling e-waste is the right thing to do for the environment, businesses have a further issue to consider – data security.

 

From February 2018, businesses subject to the Privacy Act will have a mandatory obligation to report notifiable data breaches to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC), and any individuals who may be affected by the breach. Non-compliance attracts penalties of up to $340,000 for individuals, and $1.7 million for companies.

 

This includes private sector organisations and not-for-profits with an annual turnover of more than $3 million. It also includes small businesses that may be earning $3 million or less, where they are health service providers, trading in personal information, companies that provide services under a Commonwealth contract or credit reporting bodies.

 

(Source: Office of the Australian Information Commissioner)

 

How do data breaches occur?

Whether it’s stored data on a hard drive or a mobile phone, sensitive information is a large part of business communications. Any form of unauthorised release of such information can constitute a notifiable data breach under the Act.

 

A study by Osterman Research revealed that 16% of all data breaches occur at asset disposal. This includes careless disposal of digital records that can be easily recovered from unsecured bins, or discarded electronic devices that haven’t been destroyed in a way that makes it impossible to retrieve data.

 

Safeguards for your business

Businesses are encouraged to treat stored data as a valuable asset that cannot be simply discarded at the end of its life. Proper asset tracking policies from ownership to disposal must be implemented and enforced across the technology lifecycle.

 

To prevent data breach and unauthorised access to your data, Cleanaway’s secure product destruction and recycling service ensures that sensitive data in your e-waste is completely destroyed, not just deleted. We tailor solutions for businesses that ensure complete security from collection and transport, to disposal and recycling.

 

Stockpiling e-waste

When you look at the amount of people in the average office building and the amount of technology each person uses to complete everyday tasks, it comes as no surprise that businesses generate a large amount of e-waste. Computer screens, laptops, desk phones, mobile phones, printers and computer accessories are all considered e-waste and will eventually need to be replaced. Once these products have reached the end of their life and need to be disposed of, businesses are responsible for making sure they find safe and ethical ways for them to be recycled.

 

Not-for-profit organisation, TechCollect estimated that small medium enterprises (SMEs) may have between 20 and 50 computers in the office but have no idea what to do at the end of its useful life. TechCollect chief executive Carmel Dollisson said that while bigger companies are generally good at recycling old equipment, SMEs are not.

 

Among the major barriers to e-waste recycling among SMEs are:

  • Education – Lack of knowledge that e-waste can be recycled or where to recycle them
  • Cost – Many are worried that disposal will be too expensive
  • Privacy – Concerns that data security may be compromised

 

Why recycle e-waste?

Recycling e-waste is just as important as recycling any other waste stream and considering the materials inside electronic devices, e-waste may be one of the most important waste streams to recycle correctly. 90-95% of e-waste components can be recycled when managed through the right process. This greatly reduces the environmental impact of landfill, sourcing new materials, pollution and contamination.

 

The products inside e-waste that can be recycled for reuse include; gold, platinum, plastics, lead and glass. They can also contain hazardous substances, such as mercury and lead, that need to be treated correctly to avoid harming humans or the environment.

 

 

What are the benefits of e-waste recycling?

Ensuring that you recycle your e-waste with a reputable company that ethically and safely manages the e-waste recycling process is key. Cleanaway provides an e-waste recycling service that will make sure your outdated technology gets recycled and not disposed of in landfill.

 

The recycling process also ensures that your private information is unable to be retrieved, so that your information security is always completely retained. The industry-leading Blubox recycling technology can safely recycle the mercury found in next generation e-waste.

 

For customers with small amounts of e-waste, free drop off sites by TechCollect are located around the country. Find your nearest e-waste drop off point here.

 

To book an e-waste recycling service for your business, email us via this address for more information.

 

E-waste not a concern for your business? Find your business’ waste stream here.