Watch Out for the Bad Actors

Some e-waste recyclers are clowns

Not all ITAD providers are equal | Certifications are a good starting point | Due diligence can make all the difference


When it comes to e-waste Recycling and IT Asset Disposition (ITAD), choosing the right vendor can be the best or worst decision you’ll make with regards to your sustainability program. It’s 2021, and many enterprises realize the importance of beefing up their Environmental Social Governance (ESG) status. The right ITAD solution could be just what your ESG needs.

What’s the difference in ITAD providers?

Just like with any service you choose (and a lot of films), there are excellent actors and bad actors. But in the case of ITAD, the bad actors could get you in legal hot water AND lose you customers.

Sadly, there are companies who seek to make money on the need to offload end-of-life devices simply by taking the easy road. The easy road may be claiming to be sustainable while actually sending devices to the landfill or backyard scrap operations. In some cases, not only is this illegal act performed without customers knowing, but the worst offenders may take their dumping international. This is where the legal waters get really hot and some businesses are unwittingly partisan to international crimes as a direct violation of the Basel Convention or federal law.

Understanding that you need to know more about what happens with your IT assets once they’ve been offloaded is an important practice in avoiding this damaging scenario. Finding a truly sustainable ITAD vendor can also multiply the good you do with your end-of-life devices. So, take the time to evaluate the company you partner with – before you send off your electronics.

How do I find the right ITAD vendor?

A great way to filter out the vendors who aren’t even trying to be sustainable is to look for providers who follow the R2 or e-Stewards certifications. Each of these do the watchdog work of helping keep ITAD companies within the law through scheduled and unannounced audits. Both standards address aspects of an operation such as EHSMS (Environmental, Health & Safety Management Systems), legal compliance, data security, and downstream custody of e-waste material. Another check box to look for is the NAID AAA certification. This will ensure your vendor handles data removal with the required security you’ll need.

But keep in mind, certifications will only guarantee as much as the weakest part of that standard will allow. This means that looking for certifications is the minimal level of sustainability you should consider. Even R2 or AAA-certified ITAD vendors can find ways of sidestepping best practices. What you really want to look for is an ITAD service company who cares more about doing the right thing, than delivering just the minimum or collecting badges for the PR boost. A thoughtful look “under the hood” should make it clear what the motivations of your provider truly are.

For example…

  • Do they offer non-shredding options for data destruction?
  • Are they willing to let you see what happens to the devices that have been refurbished?
  • Do they have an asset recovery program where they either resell or donate refurbished devices?
  • Do they have video monitoring of the receiving and processing of your assets, or even real-time tracking?
  • Will they open their doors to you if you drop by unannounced?

These are some of the questions that, when answered correctly, set a truly sustainable vendor apart from one of those bad actors.

It pays to research

These simple checks and any other you might think of will ensure that not only that your devices won’t get you into legal hot water and create potentially devastating bad publicity, but will also deliver the greatest holistic value for each of your end-of-life assets – both economically, and environmentally. Whether through return value for resold devices or ESG points for donated devices, the best ITAD providers should offer you more than just a certificate of recycling.

To see under our hood, inquire about our certifications, or learn about our innovative ITAD solutions by going here. Otherwise, feel free to get in touch with our team. We’d be happy to walk you through best practices when it comes to ITAD, as well as walk you through our facility if you’re in the area.

Taking the time to do your due diligence when choosing an ITAD provider will return significant dividends, and avoid the potential liability of improper disposition. Be sure to research as best you can so you’re not surprised by the negative aspects of some truly bad acting.