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ITAD is not the end of ITAM, it’s the beginning

- 7 minute read

Every day, 1.145 trillion megabytes of data is created. Every year, more than 50 million tonnes of e-waste is generated. These numbers are vast, seemingly incomprehensible. They tell us there’s an incredible amount of data and assets which is at risk of either illicit use or non-compliant disposal. Businesses need to utilize their IT asset disposition (ITAD) methods to the best of their ability to remain compliant and reduce their environmental impact. Effectively, this is the real advantage of a quality ITAD process - protecting sensitive data and the environment simultaneously.

However, to convince executive management of the need for regulatory risk mitigation and practical green business applications, ITAD professionals need to consider these important factors:

Understanding the risks

Enterprises with redundant equipment or equipment that will soon be made redundant are regularly faced with decisions regarding whether to dispose of, recycle, refurbish or remarket their IT assets. Many businesses face an intense and regular replacement cycle for IT equipment, which can be costly.

ITAD reduces the risk of bad press, being inherently socially responsible. Proper ITAD helps protect against data breaches. Now, effective ITAD processes exist to satisfy several considerations:

  • Educating a business on the ecological sensitivity of some materials found in IT hardware helps improve decision-making regarding asset disposition.
  • The need for complete data security during disposition is regularly seen as a stage where non-compliance and data breach risk increase.
  • Disposing of IT assets properly avoids fines associated with data or environmental mismanagement.
  • Sustainability concerns: Companies may have an interest or direct need for ethical sourcing, alongside an increased desire to move towards a circular economic model.

So what do businesses stand to gain from investing in their ITAD processes?

Why invest in your ITAD processes

Improving sustainability

Improving sustainability is on the minds of many business leaders right now. With national and international governments calling for a reduction in carbon footprints and environmental impact, such as the EU committing to climate-neutrality by 2050 and the US committing to net-zero emissions by 2050, improving sustainability practices is a commitment that businesses are working towards.

Businesses are able to initially remarket their IT assets when they have no use for them, extending the use of those assets and creating an additional form of revenue. It’s only at the point where remarketing cannot be pursued when a recycling disposal method is chosen.

When you recycle IT equipment, the raw materials regained from the process can be two to ten times more energy-efficient than those from virgin ore. Additionally, by 2040, 14% of global annual carbon emissions will be attributable to the production of elections

Improving sustainability is a popular path in the eyes of everyday customers. It’s also a trend enterprise businesses are taking to wholeheartedly. For example, at the start of 2021, Apple announced it would modify executive bonuses based on environmental values.

Similarly, Microsoft pledged to become a carbon-negative company by 2030.

It’s a prevalent idea that green business is good business and that creating a circular economy for IT equipment, the kind of economy that will help us bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic, is the right way to go.

For more information about creating a circular economy for IT assets, read this blog post.

Device visibility and governance

How confident are you that you have complete asset visibility? It may be an easy affair when assets are in use, but when hardware is sent to be remarketed or recycled, keeping track of all those endpoints can be challenging. 

A lack of awareness regarding device visibility and governance means, when issues arise (such as misplaced devices), it’s unclear what kinds of risks are posed and how threats can be mitigated. The kind of critical incident responses asset management requires will be completely delayed if you’re unsure where the assets are, what state they’re in or how they should be handled. This is the kind of scenario that, for example, when data is lost, only works to amplify the damage caused.

Not knowing where your data resides can easily result in non-compliance when it comes to asset disposition - especially if you’re simply throwing hardware away rather than dealing with it via the appropriate methods. Data protection laws, such as GDPR, HIPAA, GLBA and more, are stringent - non-compliance has the potential for accruing large financial or legal penalties.  

Having an accurate picture of your technology when it comes to disposal time means you can determine what needs replacing, what can be either recycled or remarketed and what needs properly wiping and destroying. This will definitely save you time and reduce the risk of non-compliance.

Achieving compliance

Computers, hard drives, work smartphones and other IT devices all store data, data that can be exploited. Upon disposition, whether assets are to be recycled or remarketed, ensuring that data is wiped is crucial. If data, such as bank account information or Social Security numbers, isn't wiped, it opens up real risk for data misuse - not only to the business in question but also to their customers and shareholders. 

Some companies delay the implementation of proper ITAD because of its perceived cost. However, this cost is small in comparison with the penalties accrued by non-compliance. According to IBM, the global average cost of a data breach is $3.86 million. In the US, it’s $8.64 million. These are huge numbers, too big to contend with. 

Additionally, the right ITAD process can even be cost-neutral or even profitable at times. If the assets are assets of value, they can be remarketed properly (sold to niche markets where prices can be high).

When managers consider the cost versus the benefits, there’s a realization they can’t afford not to implement the right ITAD processes. And the best way to implement a successful ITAD program is by partnering with the right vendors. 

Partnering with ITAD vendors

Every day, 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are generated by our activity using digital devices. With this sheer amount of data being held on hard drives, bought, sold and bartered for, it’s essential organizations remain compliant with data protection laws during IT asset disposition. This means being able to securely track, sanitize, recycle or destroy devices.

To remain compliant, experienced ITAD vendors can support during these processes, with the best carrying out data destruction in-house. Failure to accurately destroy data could result in fines, so methods such as degaussing, puncturing and hard drive shredding are crucial to be done and done well. 

The best solutions for IT asset disposition services are ones that can decommission end-of-life devices with support and consideration for every stage of the process, including transportation, identification, testing, repair, data sanitization and value recovery. While many ITAD vendors will offer lower logistic costs, the highest quality providers will operate with local compliance experts in-region and in-country, working with a high-level understanding of both local compliance laws and transboundary movements.

Each ITAD or ITAM professional will have a wide variety of concerns and considerations for the management of assets throughout their lives. To more effectively detail why ITAD is crucial within ITAM processes, watch our recent webinar.

Why ITAD matters for ITAM

ITAM professionals need to understand and practice compliance in their decision-making. It’s no use putting little effort into IT asset disposition because it helps save money - this type of behaviour will only incur more financial burdens.

In this webinar, our specialists talk about the consideration inherent in the asset lifecycle management and how assets can be disposed of in a more compliant way. Don't miss out on these insights - register for the webinar by clicking the button below.

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