One of the best investments you can make for your business is new technology. Tech takes many forms, of course, from network devices, laptops, and smartphones, to less common items like sophisticated manufacturing and industrial equipment. But almost all new tech runs faster and more efficiently, and is more secure, making it a practical necessity for businesses to remain efficient and stay alive in the competitive market.
The downside is, all those incoming new devices displace old devices which were probably in decent condition. So what should you do with old laptops, smartphones, and networking equipment? The United States produces more than 9.4 million tons of “e-waste” annually, which is harmful to the environment and wasteful for companies disposing of it, so surely there’s a better way—but what is it?
Secure Information Deletion
Before you do anything with your old devices, you’ll need to clear all data that was ever on them. This includes obvious devices, like smartphones and hard drives, but also devices you may not consider to be security risks, such as fax machines or printers. This is important for multiple reasons:
- Proprietary data protection. If outside parties get their hands on sensitive company information, they could use it to exploit your company or work to outcompete it.
- Network data protection. If any device had “saved” your wireless network password, it could easily be used to gain access to your entire company network, leaving all your current devices vulnerable. In fact, any saved password represents a vulnerability.
- Customer data protection. You’ll also need to think about any customer information that may be stored on your business devices.
For most modern devices, this process is relatively straightforward. In a settings or options menu, you’ll find a convenient button that allows you to restore the device to the original factory settings, or its default state. Because of the way data storage works, this won’t make the data permanently disappear, but it will be much, much harder to put together. If your data is especially sensitive, you may consider physically destroying the device using magnets or professional disposal services, but this may render the device completely unable to be used (which may interfere with your next plans).
Once you’ve wiped your devices of any important data, your next best option is to sell them to someone else. There are a few different options here:
- Individualized sale. If you’re a small company with only a handful of devices, it may be in your best interest to opt for individual, itemized sales of those items. You can list them on auction sites like eBay or even local marketplaces like Craigslist, and probably earn close to the going resale value, helping you improve the ROI of your old devices.
- Resale to refurbishers or resellers. Currently, the market for old technology is booming, which means resellers and refurbishers are in ample supply. Companies like BrightStar Systems will buy your old devices at a reasonable rate, and may eventually refurbish them, resell them, and/or dispose of them for parts.
- Paid recycling programs. You can also participate in a paid recycling program; here, scrappers will pay you, often by the pound, for your old devices and take them all at once with minimal inspection. They’ll then strip rare materials, like gold and silicon, from those devices and scrap them to make a profit. This method is only recommended for very old devices, since the ROI is lower.
If you don’t want to mess with the process of individually selling or reselling your old devices, you should at least recycle your old electronics. Electronics are full of rare materials, which are difficult to extract from the Earth and are in limited supply; recycling ensures some degree of sustainability in the production of new electronics, and also helps protect the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Most modern devices are also equipped with batteries, which can wreak havoc on a local ecosystem. Not all landfills have an electronics recycling department, but you should be able to find an electronics recycler in your city without much trouble.
New technology is a must for modern businesses, and your old technology doesn’t have to be a pain to get rid of. After wiping your company data from your devices, you’ll have multiple options—most of which offer some form of compensation—to protect the environment, relieve you of your unwanted junk, and help you see a better ROI.