Electronics Recycling vs ITAD: What’s the Difference?
Electronics recycling companies and ITAD companies both provide similar services, but there are several key differences to take into consideration.
Whenever organisations need to dispose of old devices, there’s a lot to consider. Even at an individual level, most of us would not likely dispose of our old mobile phone or laptop without performing a wipe of all sensitive data and/or formatting the device beforehand.
It’s never a simple “out of sight, out of mind” when the security of the business is at risk from data breaches, but instead a question of how best to dispose of IT assets in a safe and secure manner.
Businesses often choose either an electronics recycling company or an ITAD company to perform this critical task on their behalf. What’s the difference between them and which should you choose for your organisation?
What is Electronics Recycling?
As the name suggests, an electronics recycler collects unwanted and redundant electronics waste and recycles them, thus diverting the electronics waste (e-waste) from landfills. Very generally speaking, there isn’t much more to say as their services are fairly straightforward and everything gets recycled only.
In terms of sustainability, recycling is good, but not nearly as good as the other two R’s: reducing and reusing. Although the first (reduce) may not be feasible in large organisations, the latter (reuse) is often possible and preferred to recycling as it gives the devices a second, third or fourth life in some cases.
Electronics recyclers do not necessarily provide secure Data Destruction services; instead, they simply collect electronics and shred them for metals or previous metals. They have no incentive to tell your organisation whether or not you could have gotten a better ROI from your IT assets elsewhere and instead will simply recycle everything you provide them, sometimes even commanding a surcharge for certain items.
What is ITAD?
ITAD is an abbreviation of IT Asset Disposition, a set of processes for the secure disposal of IT assets. Note the word secure, because that ought to give you an indication of where ITAD companies differ fundamentally from electronics recyclers.
An ITAD Company collects electronics and then dispositions of them in a secure manner, which may involve recycling or it may involve remarketing the device (reuse from the three R’s). Separating e-waste in such a manner optimises the potential yields for the client, improves sustainability, and enables third-party customers to purchase refurbished devices at affordable prices through marketplaces such as the Wisetek Store (pushing the reduce & reuse R’s simultaneously). All of this contributes to a working Circular Economy model.
Another important aspect of an ITAD provider is their data destruction capabilities. An ITAD company will securely process redundant IT assets and thoroughly destroy all data held on them, which keeps organisations secure from data breaches and compliant with data protection regulations, e.g. GDPR.
Data destruction certification is an important part of the ITAD process. Our fully certified data destruction process offers a one-stop shop for the environmentally responsible disposal of retired IT assets as well as the recycling of valuable materials. Using Wisetek’s certified IT Asset Disposition services ensures that your company meets or exceeds all relevant regulations governing hazardous electronic waste disposal.
Similarities Between Electronics Recyclers & ITAD Companies
Electronics recyclers and ITAD companies both process IT assets and reduce needless e-waste from ending up in landfills. Consequently, the processes and methods used by electronics recyclers and ITAD companies are far more sustainable than discarding electronics in a landfill, for example.
Both electronics recyclers and ITAD companies see the value in redundant IT assets. Both are able to process e-waste efficiently and can keep your business compliant with regulations such as the European Union’s EU directive 2012/19/EU for waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), for example.
Key Differences Between Electronics Recyclers & ITAD Companies
The electronics recycler will focus on processing the materials for its metals and commodities. An ITAD company, on the other hand, will differentiate between e-waste that can be salvaged and that which must be recycled. In doing so, they can further eliminate e-waste and reuse perfectly usable devices.
More importantly, however, an electronics recycler may not provide any data destruction at all. Instead, they request that the organisation perform all data destruction on-premises before collection. This poses serious data security risks should any hard drives or other media fall into the wrong hands.
An ITAD provider naturally performs all of these services with data security in mind. This includes everything from secure logistics to on-premises data destruction, chains of custody, and the provision of data destruction certificates and clear audit trails.
Is it Worth Recycling Electronics?
Recycling e-waste is far better than sending it to landfills, where it can pose serious environmental hazards due to leaching of ground soils and pollution of groundwater and the air. Although recycling is generally good, it is not the best in all circumstances. Reduce and reuse come before recycle, so whenever possible it is preferable to either reduce consumption or to reuse IT assets than it is to recycle.
According to the Global Transboundary E-waste Flows Monitor 2022 report by the United Nations Institute for Training and Research, there were approximately 12.0 Mt of e-waste in Europe in 2019 (of 53.6 Mt worldwide, or 7.3 kg per capita), trailing behind Asia and America. Europe has a 42% recycling rate (61% for printed circuit boards) for e-waste, which is better than none but still a far cry from ideal (100%!).
It’s only anticipated to get worse, with estimates showing approximate e-waste generation of around 74.7 Mt by 2030 and 110 Mt by 2050 unless something is done to alleviate this crisis. Recycling is one way to lessen the environmental impact, but reusing perfectly usable IT assets can also help a great deal.
When Should You Consider ITAD Over an Electronics Recycling Company?
For global organisations that place importance on data security, there is simply no competition. ITAD is the preferred choice. Electronics recycling companies may be ok for individuals or perhaps small businesses that actively take precautions to destroy any sensitive data before handing it off for collection, but for large organisations, this is simply not enough to remain compliant with data security and data protection regulations.
Wisetek: Global Leaders in ITAD Services
For professional ITAD services from global leaders in secure data destruction, choose Wisetek. We operate a circular economy model and a Zero-Landfill Policy that seeks to minimise needless e-waste whenever possible. Our remarketed products can be found on the Wisetek Store (Wisetek Store UK).
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