Removing old computers and installing new computers is known as a "refresh" by the Information Technology (IT) industry. It's a service offered by many third-party technology consultants, but can be planned and performed by your own technical staff if you have them. Unfortunately, recycling isn't always a well-planned and efficient part of the plan. Most consultants will keep you legal by not throwing everything into a basic dumpster on the side of the road, but you could be throwing away a lot of money by not having specific recycling plans. To understand the benefits of recycling planning and the risks of doing it wrong, take a look at a few parts of refresh recycling.
Legal? What Could Be Illegal?
For years, policies for proper disposal of electronic waste have made their way to the forefront of business and society at large. There are toxic components in some parts of computer. The materials used for precision electronics can also be recycled in order to reduce drilling and other expensive extraction methods.
In the United States and many other countries, it is illegal to simply throw a computer away in any fashion you please. Some parts of the United States require a specific recycling bin for computers and other materials, while some policies require that computer be taken to a recycling facility by the owner. For businesses with hundreds or thousands of computers, it is imperative to find a recycling service that will handle the materials for you.
There are fines associated with getting rid of computers by illegal means. You'll either need to sell the materials with a clear statement of what the items are for or find a recycling program that can deliver the greatest return.
Adding Recycling To The Refresh Project
Leave the technicians to their own devices for the refresh project. The consultant or lead technician should develop their own plan for removing systems and adding in the new systems, although you should receive a briefing of how the move should take place.
For a brief overview of the process, there should be technicians with at least basic training for the main removal. These are often entry-level technicians, as it is a good way to give experience to technicians for more vital roles--consider it on-the-job training.
The technicians will remove the cables and connections from the computers and should be moving the workstation tower (or laptop) to another location. If mice, keyboards and other accessories or peripherals are being upgraded, the old ones should be removed as well. In most cases, mice, keyboards and monitors will stay in place for the new computer to be attached.
Your recycling plan should be added to the end of the removal processes, and you can even train your technicians in the process. Have inexperienced technicians work under the supervision of not only skilled technicians, but technicians willing to slowly identify, explain and assist with the removal of certain parts.
Here are a few parts that can be removed for recyclable material:
- Hard drives. These components are used to store information, but there's valuable materials inside. The casing is made of aluminum or steel, but rare earth magnet clusters are used on the inside. These magnets are sought after by hobbyists and recycling professionals.
- Heat sinks. Made of aluminum or copper, these components pull heat away from the computer for efficient cooling.
- Power supply. The power supply unit contains copper, and should only be opened by licensed electricians; the parts inside aren't useful for IT technicians.
Contact a commercial dumpster service, like ESP Dumpsters & Waste Services, for a large enough container to store and ship your recyclable goods.