How to Find a Responsible E-Waste Partner

How many times have you upgraded your smartphone over the last 5 years? If you’re an average tech enthusiast, chances are, at least 3 or 4 times. Because according to Wirefly, an average smartphone user gets a new one every 18 months.

As it turns out, people seldom think twice before buying the latest gadgets. But it comes as no surprise — we’re at the peak of a burgeoning digital age. And tech companies are launching new products faster than ever.

This is great news for consumers, but it puts us amid a huge pile of electronic waste. Recent data shows that almost 20 million TVs are trashed every year in the US alone. And in the case of cell phones, it is more than 100 million. What’s even more alarming is that only 13% of such electronic waste is managed efficiently.

The state of e-waste management

The rate at which such waste is piling up is very troublesome. Even more so because these contain dangerous chemicals. Lead, beryllium, cadmium, mercury and other brominated flame retardants to name a few. The bigger the pile, the deeper the contamination of air, soil, and water caused by these chemicals.

Clearly, there needs to be an immediate action plan to bring this under control. As a company, this means that you must start at the workplace. You need to find better ways to dispose and recycle e-waste safely and efficiently. In fact, the law requires that you do. Failure to comply with these requirements will lead to serious consequences.

So the inevitable need of the hour is a reliable e-waste partner. There are many companies out there that make false claims. That’s why you need to choose wisely and find one that is genuine and well-versed in compliance standards.

Let’s take the case of Total Reclaim for example. Total Reclaim was supposedly the largest e-waste recycler of Pacific Northwest. But in November 2018, they pleaded guilty to wire fraud.

They had been collecting waste and charging companies for “environmentally safe” recycling. In reality, they were sending large amounts of flat-screen monitors to Hong Kong. Think of the amount of mercury affecting the people and the environment!

There are millions of other cases with such fraudulent re-cycling partners, which is why it’s important to exercise a keen eye when choosing an e-waste partner. Here are a few pointers to keep in mind.

Pick a certified e-waste recycler

A good way to start your search would be to pick only certified partners. R2 certification (sometimes referred to as responsible recycling certification) is a company level certification based on the R2 standard overseen by the R2 Technical Advisory Committee (TAC). The standard is described as “Responsible Recycling (“R2″) Practices for Use in Accredited Certification Programs for Electronics Recyclers”. The standard requires certified companies to have a policy on managing used and end-of-life electronics equipment, components and materials based on strategies such as reuse, materials and energy recovery and/or disposal.

The R2:2013 Standard is the latest version of R2, the electronics recycling industry’s leading certification. Each provision of the R2 Standard is designed to help ensure the quality, transparency, and environmental and social responsibility, of R2 Certified electronics recycling facilities.

Hundreds of recycling facilities are R2 Certified. Whether you are an organization with a large number of units, another recycler looking for a partner, or an individual needing to drop off an old device, SERI’s directory can help you locate a recycler to handle your material responsibly.

Know your needs

This might seem like an obvious one. But this is more important than you think. Once you approach a recycler they will most likely need the details of your e-waste. Right down to the numbers.

So you need to know everything about every aspect of your e-waste needs. What are the sources of e-waste in your company? What is the volume of waste produced in a week or a month? What are the different kinds of waste produced?

Do they include mostly monitors and laptops? Or are they mostly batteries, wires, and cords? All this is important as recyclers charge differently based on the items.

Ask about data security

Another thing to consider is the security of all the data contained in the devices you plan on recycling. They may contain a lot of sensitive information pertaining to your company. So you want to make sure that they are not being misused in any way.

Ask your e-waste partner in detail about their data destruction policy. They may adopt different ways including data wiping, shredding and degaussing. Some of them even offer a certificate of hard drive destruction. This provides a printed assurance of destruction of confidential information. Alternatively, you could also add a clause in your contract for the same.

The right amount of trust and reliability can be built through personal meetings. So make sure that you meet your partner and talk about things clearly.

If you need help finding a reputable e-waste partner, get in touch with our experts to know what your options are. We will be more than happy to help you play your part in creating a safer digital world.

Facebook Shows Why We Need to Rethink Data Security

We all remember the infamous Facebook data breach incident that took place last year. Almost 50 million user accounts were rendered vulnerable. And executives kept stating that investigation into the matter was pending.

Well, Facebook made headlines again this year. And this time it was for storing millions of user account passwords in plain text format. It was discovered that user passwords were searchable and accessible by the employees at Facebook. But no one was found to have abused this access.

We Need to Rethink Data Security

Even though Facebook promises that their employees didn’t misuse these passwords, this incident brings light to many data security issues companies face today. It shows that there’s always a risk when we put confidential information on the internet. And while social media channels like Facebook have always assured us of our privacy, we can never be too cautious when protecting our data online.

Data Breaches On The Rise

Of course, this is not the first time that we’ve seen a major breach of user information or a need to rethink data security. In the first half of 2018 alone, approximately 291 records were stolen or exposed every single second.

With this increase in data breaches, users are counting on platforms to do a better job at least notifying them if their data has been compromised. And it’s not just because it’s the right thing to do. The General Data Protection Regulation requires that they do. It has clear security and data breach notification requirements.

As per the GDPR enacted last May in the European Union, companies have a 72 hour notification period. It requires that they inform the people promptly from “awareness” about a breach.

However, it does not state a “perfect’ notice. This essentially means that they will have to tell their customers about the issue. But they won’t be obliged to fill in the details. The purpose is to simply inform users so that they can resort to protecting themselves.

In most cases, the details of data breach incidents need more time to be uncovered. 72 hours is usually not enough time for investigation, which is why the law only requires that users be notified of the progress in phases. And many a time, the phases drag on for too long. This could explain why we only got to know of the Facebook incident now. It has clearly been going on for years. And the officials have not spoken a word about it.

Well, now the flaws of the regulation are starting to show face. After having suffered the vulnerability, all the users got is an assurance. An assurance that nothing went wrong. And a promise to prevent such a thing in the future.

I think we can all agree now that we absolutely need more comprehensive data security and breach notification requirements. Thanks to Facebook!

What’s Currently Under Consideration?

Thankfully, governments are not sitting still on the matter. Several Congress members have proposed bills to improve data security notification programs. And two possible standards are being considered — a harm standard and an occurrence standard.

According to the harm standard, the companies are only required to notify users if the data breach has or will lead to “cognizable harm.” What this is means that they don’t have to say anything unless they think it might lead to answerable issues.

The occurrence standard, on the other hand, requires companies to notify the users, right when the breach occurs. In effect, the occurrence standard seems friendlier for the users. It gives them the chance to prepare and protect themselves. Perhaps before anything bad happens.

The harm standard, which of course the industry favors, is more hostile. It effectively leaves it to the companies to decide whether or not they need to rat themselves out. They don’t have to say anything until something significant happens. What’s more, they get to decide if they even have to.

We know now that we can’t completely trust companies to keep their word. So here’s to hoping that the Congress bills might do something solid for us in the matter. Ideally, we need properly spelled out security practices for companies to follow. Ones that favors the privacy of the users as much as it does large companies.

The good news is you can be proactive in protecting our data to a great extent. Contact us today to know your options.