ITAD vs Electronics Recycling. What’s the Difference?
Both ITAD companies and electronics recycling companies provide services that reduce needless e-waste, but which is right for your company?
The disposal of redundant electronics in an organization is a major consideration. Not only does the organization need to ensure that all sensitive data has been wiped, but they must also endeavor to reduce electronic waste (e-waste).
For these reasons, organizations must dispose of redundant IT assets with safety and security in mind. The risk of data breaches and their increasingly severe cost and frequency is simply too high to ignore, and the e-waste crisis is at a global tipping point.
What’s the solution? Most businesses choose either an ITAD company or an electronics recycling company to help with this task. Which one is better for your business and what are the differences between them?
Electronics Recycling Companies
As you may have guessed by the name, an electronics recycling company collects and recycles unwanted and/or redundant IT assets from individuals and companies. Their services are very effective at diverting e-waste from landfills.
If you recall the three R’s (reduce, reuse, recycle), electronics recyclers naturally fulfill the 3rd R, recycle. While this is less impactful than disposing of e-waste in landfills (now illegal in most states), it isn’t as effective as reducing or reusing electronics.
Individuals or companies that wish to use an electronics recycling company must normally perform all Data Destruction themselves. This could involve wiping or otherwise destroying all sensitive data themselves beforehand since the recycler is only concerned with collecting and recycling the electronics and their components.
Moreover, an electronics recycler has no incentive to maximize the ROI that you could have gotten on your redundant IT assets. They may harvest valuable components for resale on the market, which helps their profits but does not benefit your organization financially.
IT Asset Disposition, or ITAD for short, is a set of processes and practices for secure IT asset disposal. The emphasis on security is therefore essential for an ITAD company, and by extension, any of their clients. A reputable ITAD Company must be committed to top-notch data security when processing any IT assets.
What do they do? Like an electronics recycler, they will collect and dispose of any redundant IT assets and dispose of them in the most efficient, secure, and profitable manner. It just so happens that the optimal method of asset disposition benefits both the ITAD company and their client. Every process is also fully secure, including logistics, asset tracking, Hard Drive Disposal and Data Centre Decommissioning, for example.
By selecting the best method of asset disposition, the ITAD company and their client both also benefit from maximum ROI on all assets. Those that can be reused (the 2nd R) can meet sustainability goals through remarketing otherwise useless e-waste and diverting it from landfills. Moreover, the profits on remarketed products financially benefit your organization. Wisetek’s remarketed assets in the US are sold through our e-commerce platform, Wisetek Market, which meets the reduce & reuse of the 3 R’s and also contributes to a functional Circular Economy model.
Similarities Between ITAD Companies & Electronics Recyclers
Both ITAD companies and electronics recyclers have the ability to process and recycle large quantities of IT assets. Moreover, both can contribute to mitigating the environmental impacts of e-waste.
ITAD companies and electronics recyclers both also see the potential value of end-of-life IT assets. Whether they harvest components for resale or have optimized their recycling facilities to process the various materials and components in highly-complex modern electronics, they are far more effective at processing e-waste than a landfill.
Differences Between ITAD Companies & Electronics Recyclers
Although ITAD companies & electronics recyclers provide a few core services in common, the differences are crucial to identify. Firstly, ITAD companies that recycle IT assets do so in a highly secure manner whereas electronics recyclers do not. They simply collect and process waste without ensuring that all sensitive data is thoroughly destroyed. This could open up the possibility for a costly data breach, especially if a hard drive contained passwords or access to sensitive records, for example.
Furthermore, ITAD providers provide many additional services that electronics recyclers normally do not or cannot provide. Some of these include hard drive shredding and disposal, secure chains of custody, fully auditable processes, data destruction certificates, video verification of data destruction, and more. They also often provide specialized Data Center Services and IT Solutions that are often far beyond the remit of an ordinary electronics recycler.
Are Electronics Worth Recycling?
Recycling electronics is far less impactful than disposing of the e-waste in a landfill. The latter can cause serious damage to the environment due to the leaching of rare earth metals into the ground soil, thus polluting the air, aquifers, and harming any fauna in the area. Electronics recycling separates the many complex materials that go into modern electronics and is therefore a better option than landfills.
While recycling is good, it is not necessarily the best solution for electronics. Keep in mind that the first two R’s are reduce and reuse, and they are preferable for financial and environmental reasons alike. Reducing how much IT infrastructure an organization needs may or may not be feasible, however, but reusing often is. Too many perfectly usable IT assets are retired from organizations too early, so remarketing them for sale on the private market can be both lucrative and more sustainable.
E-waste is also at a point of crisis worldwide. The Global Transboundary E-waste Flows Monitor 2022 report from the United Nations Institute for Training and Research shows that North America produces around 13.1 Mt of e-waste, of which only 1.2 Mt (about 9%) is managed in an environmentally sound manner.
Globally, e-waste is expected to reach as high as 74.7 Mt by 2030 and up to 110 Mt by 2050, all other things held constant. This means that solutions are required in the here and now, which includes reducing and reusing e-waste whenever possible and diverting the maximum amount possible from landfills.
Should Organizations Choose an ITAD Company or an Electronics Recycler?
Global organizations are more at risk of costly data breaches than ever before and are under increasing pressure to become more sustainable. There is simply no competition as to how a medium to large organization should dispose of IT assets: IT asset disposition from a reputable ITAD provider.
Electronics recyclers may be adequate for private individuals or small businesses that perform data destruction on their own before handing it off for collection, but in all other cases, they simply cannot provide the same level of security as that of an ITAD company. This is important for compliance, but also for protecting sensitive data, reducing the impact of e-waste on the environment, and maximizing the ROI on redundant IT assets.
Wisetek: Global Leaders in ITAD Services
Choose Wisetek for professional ITAD services in the United States and around the world. Wisetek is a leading provider of secure data destruction, data center decommissioning, and much more. We are also pioneers of the circular economy in ITAD and have committed to a Zero-Landfill Policy.
You might also be interested in the following articles: