Dell, HP and IBM Praised For E-Waste Efforts


IDC gives certificates to nine virtuous companies for disposing of old IT equipment well

Dell, HP, IBM and six other companies have been praised for their disposal of old systems by research company IDC, on Earth Day, April 22.

IDC’s Green Recycling and Asset Disposal for the Enterprise (GRADE) certificates, intended to encourage good standards in recycling IT goods, were bestowed on the three, along with GE Capital, Redemtech, Intechra, Converge, Insight Enterprises and TechTurn.

The research company recognises that thousands of companies are involved in the collection, treatment and marketing of retired IT assets, but that the young ITAD (IT asset disposal) industry needs a set of standards—particularly as enterprises, looking for third parties to help them phase out old hardware, face government regulations, fear of data breaches and environmental concerns.

IDC decided to launch its own certification process and identified more than 50 variables—concerning areas of risk, the environment, cost, operation and outcome—that represent a checklist for best practices and help enterprises to navigate the ITAD industry.

The current economy has also increased the need for trusted ITAD providers, according to IDC.

“We’re looking at an abundance of hardware that has ceased operation since the recession,” IDC analyst David Daoud told eWEEK.

“[There are] millions of desktops, laptops, monitors, mobile devices and other hardware that have ceased operating virtually overnight, as a result of the economic downturn,” Daoud goes on to explain in a forthcoming research note.

The reality, Daoud writes, is that most enterprises “will continue to pay licence fees for software they don’t use, and continue to pay for storing those systems pending a data security check, until they find a solution [to retire the systems]. … [T]hese companies have an opportunity to control all of that and reduce their costs, if they do the right things.”

When it comes to phasing out old hardware—whether to be refurbished and resold or dismantled and disposed of—it’s generally ideal to turn to a trusted third party. Rather than waste their IT team’s time, enterprises can have the guarantee of data security, as well as options to lengthen the life of the product through resale or donations.

A reputable recycler will also keep your name out of the news. In the US, large amounts of e-waste are illegally shipped to countries such as India and China, where the results have disastrous consequences for the local people and environments . “It would be disastrous PR for any company to get caught sending e-waste to a foreign site,” said Daoud.

“It goes back to the idea that [asset disposal] is a very neglected area,” said Daoud. “It’s been a very weak point in IT lifecycle management.”
Robert Hougton, president and CEO of Redemtech, one of IDC’s GRADE-certified companies, says that the economy is also causing individuals and companies to hold onto their devices longer. Additionally, he says, “Redeployments are on the rise. Some of our largest corporate clients are buying used equipment from us.”

Redemtech has various business models, ranging from safely recycling hardware for an enterprise, to a consignment model in which it refurbishes and resells hardware, with the “the lion’s share” of the profits going back to the enterprise.

Redemtech has a proprietary process around securing data. Houghton explains, however, that data security is more than just erasing hard drives.
“In our experience, 95 percent of data breaches occur … when the device is decommissioned and staged somewhere for its next use,” said Houghton.

“It’s most vulnerable at that point. From the moment an item is taken off the network, Redemtech can take control.”

Redemtech provides audit reporting to customers as well as indemnification protection, though, “knock wood,” Houghton says, no one’s ever had to use it.
Red Rabbitt is a subsidiary of Redemtech and the label of its refurbished computer line. Computers are cosmetically restored, keyboards and other touch points often replaced, stress tests are performed and the hardware is put into a designed box, “complete with the Read Me First note,” Houghton says.

“Tech users like something clean and shiny and new,” says Hougton. “The idea is that with a used computer, you still give a new computer experience.”

Microsoft has created a MAR (Microsoft Authorised Refurbisher) program, which enables companies such as Redemtech to install Windows XP Home for Refurbished PCs and Windows XP Professional for Refurbished PCs software licenses, which users then register, just like with a new PC.
“To my mind, that’s been instrumental to delivering such a high-quality experience,” said Houghton.

In Daoud’s forthcoming research note, “Checklist for a Compliant and Cost-Effective Enterprise Hardware Recycling Using IDC GRADE Certification,” asset, risk and operations management of ageing hardware is offered, as well as cost-avoidance measures and advice on achieving the best ROI and TCO of hardware.

“If you are a manager with some responsibility over lifecycle management, you should focus on expanding your thinking and processes beyond the issues of power and energy efficiency, if you have not done so already,” Daoud writes.

Taking the right steps, and championing meaningful changes, he concludes, can contribute to both cost reductions and environmental gains.

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