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    IT Asset Disposition in 2024: Everything You Need To Know

    As global IT hardware advances at breakneck speeds, management of end-of-life devices has become a pressing issue.

    Companies often find it hard to dispose of IT while maintaining a balance between sustainability and adherence to local laws. Moreover, there are always concerns about data security or mishandling of personally identifiable information (PII).

    That’s where we need procedures like Information Technology Asset Disposition, commonly known as ITAD. 

    Focusing on the correct disposal of end-of-life IT assets, ITAD involves prioritizing data security and environmental responsibility with a focus on minimal wastage and maximum reuse. 

    ITAD is necessary because simply taking old hardware to the shredder is no longer acceptable. Moreover, The Global E-waste Monitor 2024 survey shows that electronic e-waste is rising five times as much as documented e-waste recycling.

    Data security concerns with e-waste also loom large, as is evident with researches like that of Josh Frantz who found more than 300,000 files, including personal details on 85 used devices he brought for $600.

    In this article, we will discuss ITAD, how it helps dispose of IT assets ethically, and why it matters for your organization.

    By the end of this piece, you will know all that you need to know about successfully disposing of your IT assets while still maximizing the value of your discarded equipment.

    Let’s dive in!

    IT Teams Across the Globe Use Workwize for their IT Asset Disposition Needs.

    What is ITAD?

    Source: ITEKDATA

     

    IT Asset Disposal (ITAD) is an inclusive procedure for organizations to responsibly manage the lifecycle of their aging technology. It involves the secure and environmentally conscious disposal of outdated or unwanted equipment while adhering to all necessary laws and regulations. 

    Whether you're a tech-focused company or a financial institution, you need up-to-date computing resources to stay competitive in your industry. However, as technology evolves, the challenge of safely and efficiently retiring obsolete equipment arises.

    This is where ITAD steps in.  Experienced ITAD providers like Workwize securely erase data from retired equipment and facilitate proper disposal. They also find opportunities to repurpose or recycle components for maximized value recovery. ITAD may also include equipment refurbishment, lease return management, secure data erasure, on-site hard drive shredding, and data center decommissioning.

    💡 Pro Tip: Workwize, an industry leader in ITAD, helps you dispose of all your end-of-life assets worldwideDisposal (ITAD) is an inclusive procedure for organizations to responsibly manage the lifecycle of their aging technology. It involves the secure and environmentally conscious disposal of outdated or unwanted equipment, and you also get a destruction certificate.

    Key components of ITAD

    ITAD is an umbrella term for a variety of processes that involve the safe disposal of IT assets. Some of its key components include:

    • Data Destruction: ITAD involves ensuring all data on your end-of-life devices, including all sensitive and PII data, is properly destroyed. This could mean wiping storage units, physically destroying equipment, or opting for procedures like cryptographic erasure or degaussing 
    • Reuse and Recycling: ITAD attempts to reuse or recycle maximum parts of IT equipment (glass, metal, or plastic) to reduce environmental impact and the burden on landfills. Moreover, it allows businesses to extract maximum value for their obsolete assets
    • Refurbishment: Many ITAD providers allow assets to be refurbished. For instance, laptops with some surface damage, worn-out keys, or slowed-down software can be repaired and refurbished, extending the lifetime of equipment for years.

    • Compliance:  ITAD seeks to comply with all necessary laws, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Sustainable Electronics Recycling Act (SERA), or other data protection and environmental laws, to ensure you meet all ethical requirements when disposing of used equipment.

    ITAD providers like Workwize develop customized solutions to sanitize data and meet country-specific e-waste disposal regulations. 

    Why ITAD Matters for Businesses

     

    Source: Markets and Markets

    While replacing company technology is easy, responsible disposal that protects data and the environment is more complex. ITAD providers specialize in managing these processes by offering cost-effective solutions for disposal or remarketing, which can generate revenue to reinvest in your IT infrastructure. 

    Here’s why ITAD matters for  businesses of all sizes:

    ITAD keeps data secure

    ITAD programs protect against costly data breaches as the process securely destroys or erases sensitive information on obsolete equipment. With the average data breach costing $4.45 million in 2023, this is a critical concern. For instance, Filefax, a medical record-storage firm was fined $100,000 for mishandling protected health information (PHI). It arranged for records to be destroyed but left them overnight in an unlocked truck, disclosing the PHI of 2,150 patients.

    ITAD helps your business stay legally compliant 

    ITAD ensures proper disposal of IT assets, which is essential for complying with data protection and environmental regulations. Non-compliance can lead to severe legal and financial penalties. In the case of Filefax we talked about above, the company was charged under HIPAA, even after it ceased operations.

    ITAD has positive financial implications 

    ITAD turns potential liabilities into assets. When your organization avoids data breach costs, complies with regulations, and remarkets retired assets, it has increased potential to generate revenue and offset new technology investments.

    ITAD is environmentally responsible 

    ITAD promotes sustainability–all the more important given growing concerns over e-waste. It ensures responsible recycling and disposal of hazardous materials, which, in turn, lets you fulfill your social corporate responsibility and protect the environment more.

    Best Practices for ITAD in 2024

    If you are planning to set up an ITAD process for your organization, here are comprehensive ways to get started so that you make the most of your ITAD strategy in 2024. Let’s check it out.

    1. Plan and execute a detailed ITAD policy


    Truth be told, many organizations lack a formal ITAD policy to deal with obsolete IT assets. However, without a strict policy on IT asset disposition in place, it is difficult to ensure transparency and accountability in how you deal with your end-of-life IT assets. Clear guidelines and procedures also encourage informed decisions about asset lifecycle management and legal liabilities.

    Your ITAD policy should ideally detail the asset repair and retrieval processes and instructions on media cleansing and asset disposal guidelines. It must also highlight criteria for selecting third-party ITAD vendors or your existing contracts with IT lifecycle management service providers like Workwize. The policy must be designed in accordance with relevant data protection and environmental laws. 

    Your policy must also answer questions such as:

    • Which assets should be repaired or refurbished
    • Which assets can you consider donating
    • How will you document disposed of assets 
    • How do you ensure proof of compliance with relevant laws

    You can establish a cross-functional team with members from IT, legal, finance, procurement, and other departments to provide inputs on the policy. Detail the aims of the policy and set the objectives before going into data sanitization standards, asset disposal methods, vendor selection criteria, and documentation requirements.

    2. Partner only with certified ITAD providers


    Vendor selection is a critical step when it comes to executing IT asset disposal. Ensure that you collaborate only with ITAD providers that possess recognized industry certifications like the R2 (Responsible Recycling) and e-Stewards. This means that the provider follows strict standards for data security, environmental responsibility, and worker safety.

    Also, inquire about the provider’s environmental policies, asset recycling methods, and security protocols. Ideally, the provider should also have a zero-landfill policy. They need to offer transparent reports on their environmental impact without fail.

    Choosing the wrong vendors can put your organizational data at risk, similar to what happened with Morgan Stanley that hired a “vendor to scrub data” from two data centers that shut in 2016 but who left some customers’ data on those devices, leading to a potential data breach.

    Therefore, it’s essential to choose a provider that provides records on the disposition of each asset with proper data destruction certificates. It’s also a positive sign if they are willing to undergo third-party audits to verify their compliance with region-wise regulations.

     

    💡 Pro Tip: You do not need to worry about choosing the right ITAD service provider when you have Workwize. Workwize not only helps you retrieve assets from different locations around the world, but it also ensures 100% data sanitation and responsible asset disposal that meets all regulations. Moreover, you get a destruction certificate post successful disposal. Workwize also assists with IT asset reselling to give you the best profit on your old equipment or their reusable spare parts.

    3. Implement secure data destruction methods


    Your ITAD policy must enforce fail-proof data sanitization. For hard drives and solid state drives, use software-based data-wiping tools meeting criteria set by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Special Publication 800-88. This requires multiple data overwrites with random patterns, rendering such assets unrecoverable.

    Degaussing is also great for old magnetic tapes and other magnetic media. It generates a powerful magnetic field to disrupt and erase data permanently. Optionally, verify the effectiveness of degaussing with post-process testing.

    When data sensitivity in your organization requires the highest level of security, physical destruction methods like shredding or crushing are the way to go. Ensure that shredding meets appropriate security levels (e.g., cross-cut shredding) and that crushed components are beyond repair.

    💡 Pro Tip: What third-party vendor you choose plays a critical role in determining how you dispose of assets with full data erasure. It’s best to outsource to companies like Workwize that guarantee 100% data erasure, ensuring you never put your customers’ or other stakeholders’ data at risk. 

    4. Prioritize environmental sustainability


    Considering the growing climate and sustainability concerns, integrating sustainability into your ITAD strategy is the most responsible thing to do. 

    Find opportunities to extend the life cycle of devices through reuse within the organization or donation to charitable causes before considering disposal. You can also refurbish equipment to working condition once data is securely erased. Ask your recycling partners to report the end of recycled materials, including the percentage of materials recovered, reused, or disposed of ethically.

    If possible, aim for a zero-landfill goal for e-waste. This goal is made possible by maximizing reuse, recycling, and recovery of valuable materials. A zero-landfill goal is a step towards environmental sustainability and reduces the negative impact on the planet as well.

    When you partner with vendors like Workwize, you ensure you are minimizing CO2 emissions and caring for the environment. 

    5. Stay up-to-date with regulations and standards


    ITAD policies must evolve with changing legal landscapes. Review and update your policy with adherence to current regulations regularly like:

    • General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR): An EU regulation that governs personal data protection and privacy. It seeks to protect the PII of EU citizens. Non-compliance may lead to fines up to €20,000,000 ($24,490,600) or 4 percent of global turnover.
    • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA): US legislation that protects sensitive patient health information. It requires devices containing sensitive health information to be discarded in a HIPAA-compliant manner. This means Personal Health Information (PHI) cannot be discarded in public dumpsters and all PHI is erased during IT asset disposition. HIPAA violations can incur civil penalties ranging from $137 to $68,928 per violation based on culpability. Intentional violations may lead to criminal fines and imprisonment.
    • Sustainable Electronics Recycling Act (SERA): US state-level regulations aiming to promote responsible e-waste recycling along with food waste and packaging waste, including plastics.

    Keep up with emerging regulations and industry standards to ensure ongoing compliance and data protection.

    💡 Pro Tip: Consider data encryption for sensitive information stored on devices. Encryption adds an extra layer of protection and makes data unreadable even if it's not fully erased during disposal.

    ITAD Statistics and Trends

    Related reading: IT Asset Procurement: A Guide + Checklists

    More Tips for Effective IT Asset Disposal

    Here are a few other tips for a secure and efficient IT Asset Disposal (ITAD) process that protects sensitive data and optimizes your company’s assets: 

    1. Remove obsolete or redundant assets



    The easiest way to streamline operations and minimize security risks is by identifying and removing outdated technology. Implement a system to proactively retire assets that no longer support your organization's goals for a leaner IT infrastructure.

    2. Implement an IT Asset Management (ITAM) system


    To maximize efficiency and plan for the future, you need to fall back to a comprehensive ITAM strategy. Here’s what to do:

    • Regularly audit hardware and software inventory, track usage patterns, and identify opportunities to optimize
    • Plan for asset lifecycles and try to forecast technology trends 
    • With those insights, make data-driven decisions about upgrades and retirements
    • Manage software licenses and avoid over-provisioning to optimize costs
    • Ensuring regular maintenance
    • Maintain regulatory compliance with data protection, environmental, and disposal laws of your region

    3. Periodically conduct thorough asset tracking

    Implement fool-proof tracking systems to monitor asset location, status, and associated data throughout their lifecycle. You can even rely on real-time data to locate lost devices and track asset conditions.

    4. Keep your devices secure at all times


    Physical security of your devices is a basic requirement. Keep your devices physically secure with restricted access and surveillance measures in place. In addition, you can implement access controls that prevent unauthorized access to sensitive data. As for devices awaiting disposal, store them in locked cabinets or secure rooms.

    Workwize Can Help Supercharge Your ITAD Process

    Finding an IT Asset Disposition (ITAD) provider that provides secure, responsible, and cost-effective disposal of unwanted electronics is no easy task. That’s why Workwize offers a singular platform to manage all your IT asset lifecycle needs from procurement to disposal. 

    Workwize provides 100% safe, ethical, and legally compliant IT asset disposal for your business, so you need not worry about complying with laws X or Y or worrying about data stored in your damaged or obsolete IT assets. With Workwize, you can also:

    • Centrally manage your IT assets throughout their lifecycle, from procurement to disposal
    • Automate asset tracking and reporting, ensuring accurate inventory and compliance
    • Securely erase data from devices remotely, reducing the risk of data breaches
    • Easily coordinate with certified ITAD providers for responsible disposal and recycling

    Workwize is also committed to providing you with the best resale value for your assets. We provide you with a single point for managing all your IT assets so you can remain stress-free.

    Prioritizing security, environmental responsibility, and comprehensive documentation, Workwize protects your organization’s data and reputation and helps contribute to a more sustainable future. To see how Workwize can help, request a Workwize Demo Now!

    CTA - Lepaya case study

    FAQs

    1. What is an asset disposal company?

    An asset disposal company is a vendor that helps organizations safely dispose of their end-of-life tangible assets, such as IT equipment or other property, by scrapping, recycling, trading, or selling them. In the context of information technology equipment, an IT asset disposal company takes charge of ethically disposing of a company’s IT equipment in accordance with environmental, data privacy, and other laws.

    2. What is the IT asset decommissioning process?

    The IT asset decommissioning process, also referred to as IT asset disposition (ITAD), involves retiring or shutting down old or obsolete IT equipment such as computers, servers, hard drives, backup generators, security systems, and communication devices. Two major aspects of IT decommissioning involve physical disposal and data sanitization. 

    3. What are ITAD services?

    ITAD activities involve various functions regarding the disposal or recycling of obsolete or retired IT products. The services often encompass collection, erasure, or disposal of stored information, reconditioning or recycling of hardware units, sale of recoverable parts, and documentation of the disposal procedure in compliance with the regulatory requirements for disposal of hardware units.

    4. What are the 4 ways we can dispose of an asset?

    4 ways you can dispose of IT assets include:

    • Recycling: Recycling assets make it possible for them to be used further in creating newer products.
    • Scrapping: Involves dismantling the equipment to salvage valuable components or materials, which can then be sold or reused
    • Donating: Donating old assets to charity can be a great way to extend their lifespan and usability
    • Selling: Slowed-down equipment or spare parts can be sold directly to buyers

    5. Why is it important to dispose of IT assets?

    It is important to dispose of IT assets correctly to ensure they are purged of any data stored on them. Moreover, proper IT asset disposal is also important for environmental concerns and cost savings.

    Also read: IT Asset Management Best Practices: A Guide

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