“They wasted no part of the buffalo.”
Well, that’s sort of how you should think of folks who work in the field of IT asset management: they want to be sure no part of your computer goes to waste.
But that’s getting ahead of ourselves. First we need to answer two questions: “What is IT asset management?” and “If it involves getting use out of old computers, how is it any different from computer recycling?”
Asset management is the practice of looking at a company’s things and trying to gauge their value. IT asset management simply applies that idea to your information technology. And while it’s important to keep track of what you have and how long it will last, it’s just as important to know when to replace it.
Unfortunately, many companies choose to simply to dispose of their computers rather than resell them, because of data protection concerns.
A company like CWI can help a business replace their old IT and get a good value for it, while also ensuring that their private data remains secure.
A good IT asset recovery firm will also take steps that a computer recycling business might not take.
For example, CWI has a six-step process for accepting, evaluating and disposing of your equipment. The goal here is beyond just computer recycling: we want a customer to be able to replace outdated machinery, make sure their data doesn’t end up in the wrong hands, and make a profit.
We make sure to erase all the data on your old machines with WhiteCanyon Software’s Wipe Drive, a program used by the U.S. Department of Defense and several Fortune 500 companies.
It allows us to wipe several machines at once, which in turns give CWI more rack space, and allows for faster reselling of your devices.
We do work with computer recycling firms, but only ones with the proper standards.
We want a computer recycler who has certification from the Basel Action Network, an environmental group that works to keep toxic waste—a term which would apply to the remnants of an old computer—from being exported from wealthy countries to poorer nations.
And we want companies that have a no-landfill policy, who are committed to worker safety and security, as well as the security of your data.
Not every computer recycling firm can say that. Shipping your old computers off to be recycled might mean they wind up at a reputable operation. Or they could end up with their manufacturers, who salvage whatever parts they can.
But it could also mean they’ve been shipped to a developing country with no regulations to protect workers.
“A recycler can be a recycler in name only,” Basel’s Jim Puckett told NPR in 2010. “These so-called recyclers have found that they can make a lot more money just exporting this material, because the U.S. laws completely allow it to happen. And they’re able to externalize the real costs of doing things in an environmentally responsible way.”
He described witnessing a “cyber age nightmare” on a visit to China years ago:
“It’s the only part of the world where you’ll go and see thousands of women on any given day that are sitting … basically cooking printed circuit boards … As a result, they’re breathing all of the brominated flame retardants and the lead and tin that are being heated up. You smell it in the air. You get headaches as soon as you enter this area. It really is quite sad.”
This isn’t to say that computer recycling is wrong. In fact, it’s the law for corporations to get rid of their computers in an environmentally safe manner. And it’s bad for the earth to have computers and other old electronics in landfills, because they contain materials—mercury, lead, arsenic and other toxic chemicals—you wouldn’t want leeching into the ground.
No matter how you choose to dispose of your old computer, we hope you’ll pick a computer recycling firm that has the sort of standards we just mentioned.
But from an IT asset management perspective, all equipment has value, whether as a working piece of machinery, a replacement, or the raw materials. (It’s that buffalo idea we mentioned above.)
As Bell Labs wrote in 2012, ITAM is “moving from being something that was too complex and expensive for organisations to carry out to being something that is too important not to do.” It can go beyond just computer recycling, allowing your organization to replace its electronics while knowing that the data on them remained secure.