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IT Asset Disposal or Disposition?

Published on 09 October 2018

IT Asset Disposal or Disposition?


It may come as no surprise that companies providing IT disposal services are commonly referred to as disposal or recycling providers. Yet such labels are inconclusive because there are certified providers who in addition to recycling waste can also repurpose and resell IT hardware or components if it is still viable. 


Every time IT hardware is deployed, moved or decommissioned an opportunity arises for a company to reduce its costs, claw back residual value from unwanted assets, protect its data, protect its brand, update its asset register and sustain asset life. A commercially minded approach that delivers value, security and sustainability. All of these activities fall within the scope of IT Asset Disposition (ITAD) which simply defined means the processing of preparing and repositioning hardware from the beginning to the end of the asset lifecycle in an environmentally safe, secure and responsible manner.



Lifecycle Stages:


Pre-life activities – Receipt of IT assets from OEM, configuration, deployment and installation.

Mid-life activities - Decommission, logistical IT moves, repair and refurbishment.

End-of-life activities - Reverse logistics, data erasure, product sale and recycling.



Services offered by ITAD providers include:


  • Data destruction – certified data erasure and/or shredding for all forms of storage media.
  • Technical refurbishing, upgrading or harvesting of asset devices and components.
  • Reselling or redeployment of retired equipment to reduce or recover asset costs.
  • Secure logistics – Collections and deployments.
  • Downstream auditing, tracking and reporting to provide full legal and data accountability.
  • WEEE regulated recycling of obsolete electrical and electronic assets at a fully audited and certified de-processing facility to collect raw materials that can be reused for manufacturing.
  • GDPR (General Data Protection Regulations) compliance and practices.



Data Destruction


Permanent data erasure cannot be achieved by using file deletion commands alone as this only removes the pointers that tell you where data is stored and not necessarily the data itself. This is done to reduce the levels of processing by allowing data to remain in place until such time as it has to make way for new data. Unsurprisingly common software can piece together the file allocation tables that point to where the data is stored making data recovery possible. In the case of flash memory-based media it is sometimes the case that solid state or USB flash drives will cause data erasure processes to fail.


Approved and certified data erasure tools employed by certified ITAD providers work by overwriting zeros, ones or meaningless data onto all of the sectors of a hard disk drive, thereby replacing any incumbent data. Verification is then applied to ensure 100% data erasure success. Any data devices that fail verification undergo immediate physical destruction through shredding. 


In order to achieve 100% reliable and verifiable data erasure, data security solutions are designed with a combination of manual and automated processes which are integral components of a strictly managed process. Every data destruction event is systematically recorded against the asset record - and then verified as a separate, independent operation. A central security repository and erasure certificates provide evidence to verify the final outcome and prove compliance.



Refurbishing & Re-Marketing


After all the data has been erased from the IT equipment and when all identifying marks and/or labels connecting the asset to it originating owner have been removed and destroyed, it can be sold on to recoup some of the funds spent purchasing it from new. Alternatively it could be refurbished or upgraded for channelling back into other areas of the business it came from in order to circumvent the need for new equipment costs. 

An important and added benefit to this is that when IT assets are reused, resold or donated, it effectively helps to protect the environment and makes a real contribution to ‘zero landfill’ and sustainability endeavours, enhancing the owners corporate image in the process.


ITAD service providers regularly assist in optimising IT assets through intelligent refurbishment to improve the financial results. Their remarketing teams, working on a no win no fee basis, can combine a working knowledge of all hardware platforms with first-hand experience and trusted connections in the global, secondary markets to direct assets to potential buyers where they’ll also manage the sale to ensure the best possible return.




Closed, in-house logistics network


The majority of equipment losses occur during the logistical process. Despite this it has been a common false economy for some companies to entrust their end of life IT assets to a ‘man with a van’ who disappears over the horizon, while they clutch a Waste Transfer Note to their chest.


Fortunately today companies recognise the inherent risks around such a short-sighted approach and regard their data security and reputation with the appropriate levels of concern. Reverse logistics is no longer simply a question of lorries and vans arriving at your door to pick up the assets, rather a fully managed solution that includes vetted, liveried drivers and technicians in hard sided, GPS tracked vehicles adhering to prescribed schedules and protocols backed by an automated chain-of-custody to determine where every asset is, at any time in the process. 


Systematic, serialised collections ensure that everything that should be picked up is picked up and anything that shouldn’t be picked up, isn’t. If there are last minute additions then email authorisation must be given. From this point forward the client can have real time tracking access through a logistics portal or via pre-determined stage-gate emails. With this level of security the ITAD provider can indemnify both the asset values and the data risk from the point of collection. 


Responsible Recycling


All large businesses have policies that require responsible electronics recycling and in Europe this is regulated by the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE) and GDPR.  Fully licensed WEEE businesses are required to operate at the highest standards for sustainable electronic recycling so as to fully protect both their customers and the environment. 

De-manufacturing processes separate equipment into raw material streams that are further refined for re-entry into the manufacturing lifecycle through certified specialist recycling partners. 

The disposal of IT hardware is handled in a way which ensures no component finds its way into landfill. 
Reporting extends from the original assets into all waste streams and includes downstream certification of regulatory compliance. 



Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability


Monitoring IT asset disposal compliance is an opportunity to deliver a robust compliance program that positively contributes to corporate social responsibility and sustainable computing targets.

As an e-Stewards® certified recycler Restore Technology diverts huge amounts of electronic scrap from premature retirement through reuse, remarketing and recycling solutions – generating positive contributions to energy saving and greenhouse gas reduction.
No landfills.  No export to developing countries.  No child labour.  

Here's an excerpt from one of our sustainability reports, which we can provide to our clients.





The General Data Protection Regulations became mandatory in May 2018. They require that all businesses handling personal data in or originating from the EU must be GDPR compliant. For ITADs this includes the collection, processing, erasure and destruction of data, much of which will contain personal data.

Many if not most IT devices store data; Such as laptops, PCs, servers, smart phones, printers etc. So the data needs to be securely erased to ensure that any potential personal data held on data bearing devices is completely destroyed.

When it comes to personal data, security is a zero-tolerance discipline. If you say you’ve had all your personal data deleted you need to prove it. And for that reason the ITAD service will provide you with the reporting, audits and certificates to prove your GDPR compliance.



In Summary

If you or your company is looking to find the most cost-effective, efficient and sustainable method for managing your company’s end-of-life technology it is clearly important to understand the difference between ‘disposal’ and ‘disposition’.  Responsible disposal may well be your only option but only after you have considered the value, security and sustainability options open to you.



For more information:

Restore Technology (a Restore PLC company) has been providing IT Asset Disposition services for the last two decades and is certified with distinction with honours by the Asset Disposal and Information Security Alliance standard.

For further information please get in touch or give us a call on 01462 813132.