With the current global waste crisis we’re experiencing, you’ve more than likely heard the phrase: “Reduce, reuse, and recycle.” In fact, for recyclers this phrase is known as the waste hierarchy. Essentially, these terms designate three vital components of environmentally-responsible behavior and are listed in the order of preferred action, from least harmful to most harmful in terms of impact on the environment. This might sound strange for some, since many tend to view recycling as being the best waste management practice.
However despite there being an acknowledged waste management hierarchy, sometimes devices can fall into gray areas where it is hard to determine if it should be reused, repaired or simply recycled.
While reducing is obviously the most environmentally friendly option, it is not always possible. For example, consumers tend to have one smartphone, one laptop and one printer for personal use. Trying to reduce this number isn’t much of an option Therefore, we’re typically left trying to decide between reusing and recycling our old devices. Both options play a role in supporting a healthy recycling hierarchy.
Reusing electronics is typically the better option for the environment rather than recycling, due to the reuse process consumes few natural resources. Furthermore, reuse allows devices and products to be released back in the consumer market more quickly than recycling can allow for components to be “upcycled.” Electronic reuse is possible at two levels:
- Reuse outside the waste stream by repairing a damaged item and reselling to function as it was originally intended. For example, a fully intact smartphone that does not require repair efforts
- Reuse within the waste stream, in which the individual components are harvested for reuse in other products. For example, a RAM or video card that can be extracted out of discarded pieces of technology.
However, consumer can run the risk of data security threats if sensitive data has been left on the device before being handed off to a new user. The best way to ensure that there is no residual data on the device and that your information has not been compromised, is to find a reputable or certified vendor who will wipe the data cleanly off of the device. HOBI International, who is an R2/RIOS and ISO 14001 certified vendor, offers data security and erasure services to help consumers protect their data and get unwanted devices off their hands.
If you’re still worried about your data ending up in the wrong hands, then we suggest looking into recycling options. Despite this process still using data erasure operations, the device would be dismantled for parts — which would mean that it would be harder for malicious actors to try and retrieve your data.
That said, while recycling may be lower in the electronic waste management hierarchy, the process is still a very eco-friendly option when compared to dumping electronics in landfills. Recycling recovers valuable materials from old electronics that can be used to make new products. As a result, we save energy, reduce population, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and save resources by extracting fewer raw materials from the earth. Furthermore, recycling e-waste can help create jobs.
The best way to avoid any undesirable issues in the reuse or recycling process is to deal with a reputable recyclers who is certified. By choosing this route, a consumer or business will also avoid the problems that come with using unscrupulous recyclers who prices to recycle your items but instead, simply ship them off to someone else who may steal the data or sell it for reuse without properly wiping the device.
HOBI International, Inc. is an industry-leading ITAD service provider who can help enterprises of all sizes economically and environmentally deal with their electronic waste. You can learn more about our environmental services by using the following link: https://hobi.com/environmental-services/.