Top E-Waste Recycling Tips for Small Business

While it’s true that switching to digital applications has helped us reduce paper and plastic waste, the cyclical release and degradation of electronics have resulted in unprecedented streams of wasted products. In fact, the United Nations estimates that 50 million tonnes of e-waste are produced each year, worth over $62.5 billion. Yet only 20% of that waste is recycled.

Fortunately, small businesses have the power to make a significant difference by enacting a change in their business habits. We’ll cover a few ways that organizations can reuse and recycle their yearly e-waste.

What is E-Waste?

Although it sounds fairly straightforward, it can actually be confusing as to what can be considered e-waste. Encyclopedia Britannica defines e-waste as “electric and electronic equipment that have ceased to be of value to their users or no longer satisfy their original purpose.” That can include anything from a defective kitchen appliance to outdated computers.

The Dangers of E-Waste

E-waste is toxic to humans. When improperly disposed of, e-waste materials can be deadly. Components may have chemicals that, when exposed, can be highly flammable. They may release gases that can cause respiratory issues or cause health issues that even lead to cancer.

E-waste is a missed opportunity. Each device has microchips and materials that can be repurposed for new devices. When it is simply thrown away, the materials are lost, and the chance to reuse is squandered.

E-waste is harmful to the environment. Since e-waste isn’t biodegradable, it stays around on earth long after being thrown away. This leads e-waste to contribute to liquid waste, air pollution, habitat destruction, and toxic landfills.

Tips for E-waste Recycling

Now that you know what’s at stake, what can your small business do about it? Here are a few solutions:

Return to seller

These days, big companies like Apple and Best Buy offer programs that will accept e-waste to be recycled. Once accepted, these items will either be repaired and reused or stripped down for parts. Last year alone, Apple refurbished over 7.8 million devices and prevented 48,000 metric tons of e-waste.

Switch to the cloud

With ever-expanding cloud storage available to everyone, USBs and discs are becoming obsolete. Why use a finite storage system when you can have terabytes of space online? Switching to the cloud is a preventative action- meaning you won’t need to recycle or throw anything away because it’s all saved digitally. Google Cloud and Dropbox have become popular consumer cloud choices.

Donate or recycle

If the device isn’t totally useless, take matters into your own hands and reuse or donate them. While your business may no longer find use in an old printer, other companies may be able to find a new home for the device. Visit the EPA’s Electronics Donation and Recycling page to find out where you can send your old devices. Alternatively, visit Securis’s IT recycling services page for a more straightforward option.

Destroy data devices

Work with sensitive information in your company? Then it’s totally understandable if you have reservations about recycling your devices. Instead, hire a trustworthy and reputable company to destroy the data so it isn’t accessed by the wrong people. Learn more about the best way to destroy hard drives, cellphones, and other storage devices.

Cultivate a greener culture

Change starts from the top down. If you want your business to start reducing e-waste, make it a company-wide policy. Set quantitative, attainable targets for your leaders to hit during the year, like reducing e-waste by 30%. Hold people accountable each month, even conducting regular check-ins. Finally, reward people for striving towards a more sustainable business process.

Building a Brighter Tomorrow

More than ever before, companies hold greater responsibility and influence in the course of reducing e-waste. It’s true that a majority of e-waste is derived from corporate activities, it’s also true that much of the change taking place is a result of those same companies.

So don’t just sit back and leave it to someone else- take responsibility and do your part. Retool your company culture to tackle this issue head-on. Start taking inventory of unused devices and seeing how they can be repurposed or recycled. It’s a world shared by everyone, including our future generations. It’s time we do what we can to give back and take care of the planet.

Learn more about how Securis can assist your business in responsible IT removal and recycling today.

 

Top Five Human Errors That Impact Data Security

Despite our security innovations, human folly continues to be the source of hacks and breaches. Just last year, vulnerabilities were found in Android’s API that allowed cyber attackers to access device data and user tracking. Social network Google Plus was forced to shut down after a major profile data leak that went undisclosed for months. And most recently, Facebook faced another privacy breach, this time affecting 1.5 million users.

This wasn’t the fault of some system or AI. This is an oversight by the world’s greatest engineers and developers. If it can happen to companies like Google and Facebook, it can happen to small startups and growing enterprises.

So what are the main reasons that data security is impacted?

1. Unauthorized user or application access

According to Cisco, 44% of IT professionals have dealt with unauthorized network access or unsupervised device sharing. 70% believe that unauthorized programs resulted in “as many as half of their companies’ data loss incidents.”

It’s no surprise- with the surge of mobile devices and laptops, anyone can access a secure portal from almost anywhere. Friends and family may use an employee’s login without their approval, or even their notice.

2. Falling for scams, trojans, phishing sites

Even emails that appear innocuous could potentially devastate a company’s entire system. In the Check Point Research Security Report of 2018, 64% of organizations faced some sort of phishing attack in the previous year. Verizon reported that 28% of phishing attacks are targeted.

Phishing attacks, scams, and trojans underscore the importance of robust firewalls and anti-virus software. Each week hackers are inventing new ways to trick people into letting their digital safeguard down. That’s why it’s vital to maintain updated security measures and to constantly remind users to be wary of these attacks.

3. Lack of cryptographic or high-level security

You would be astonished to find out how many businesses fail to uphold even the most basic privacy standards. And it’s not just Instagram. In fact, there’s a whole website dedicated to companies that email you your own password, a list called Plain Text Offenders. This careless habit opens up websites to a multitude of data breaches.

That’s also why 2FA or “two-factor authentication” has become so popular recently. With an added layer of protection, the most common attacks can be easily prevented. Encryption is also important, especially in sending and receiving information, to ensure that only the sender and the recipient are allowed to view the contents of a message.

4. Failure to properly dispose of data

Don’t think that just because you delete your data and or password protected a device that your information is safe because it’s not. Even when you dispose of an old computer or phone, there’s still a small likelihood that hackers can gain access to your photos, messages, emails, contacts, and other sensitive information.

Never run that risk. Whenever possible, hire a reputable company to properly destroy these devices in a safe manner. Only then can you sleep soundly knowing that hackers aren’t trying to pry into your recycle bin.

5. Untrained or undertrained employees

Above all, sheer ignorance is the root cause of security breaches. Whether it’s an employee forgetting to lock their computer, or a developer that forgot to implement a second layer of authentication, you can never be too careful in training your employees.

As soon as you hire each new member, conduct a rigid test on your IT security. Educate them on the best practices of handling sensitive information, as well as protecting IT systems the right way. Consider having a dedicated cybersecurity team to handle the most urgent security issues, and to also conduct regular maintenance checks to prevent any leaks.

Brave new world

We’re living in an era of rapid connectivity, social interaction, cloud storage and computation, and even artificial intelligence. Who knows what the future will hold ten, twenty years from now. Perhaps our most robust systems of protection like 2FA and cryptography will prove worthless. Only time will tell.

Until then, there should be no excuse for any company not to employ the highest standards of cybersecurity. You may feel inconvenienced at the time and cost involved. But think of the consequences involved if ever your business faced a major data breach. It could spell the end of your company altogether. Train your employees. Protect your systems. Update your software regularly. And if you’re ever lost on how to best protect your data, work with a trusted partner like Securis.

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