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July 30, 2012

Guest column: Options abound for secure e-waste recycling

 

Most Americans may not realize how much electronic waste they produce until they have to find a place to recycle it. Demand for proper places to recycle e-waste is high, and so is the need for secure destruction of the data stored inside.

 

Many people are afraid of recycling their e-waste mainly because of sensitive information that may be contained on hard drives and other equipment. While scrap yards may buy hard drives, computer towers, monitors and more, most of these locations do not have the proper equipment or license to destroy the information found on e-waste that comes through their facilities.

This often deters recyclers from bringing their materials in, which results in “hoarding” e-waste at home (See “Hoard it, smash it, recycle it? E-waste presents a dilemma,” July 9).

On the other hand, some would-be recyclers smash their e-waste and dispose of it in landfills or at the scrap yard. Unfortunately, these solutions have an impact on the environment by not recycling properly.

Some may not think that destroying one hard drive on their own can really do much harm to the environment, but I encourage you to think on a larger scale of the effect you could be having.

As a history buff, I recall the example of “The shot heard round the world” in Lexington, Mass., which started the Battle of Lexington and Concord, the first shots of what became the American Revolution. One small ripple within the recycling industry can spread to others, creating a larger splash and a bigger problem.

While it may be difficult to find a trustworthy and licensed scrap facility to take your e-waste, plenty of reputable sites are available. Some facilities will not pay you to recycle your e-waste, but some do have hard-drive shredders or punchers on site. Sometimes you can watch your material being destroyed and receive a certificate stating that it was destroyed properly.

Another way in which people can get rid of their e-waste is at public shredding events. Many times I have seen towns offer a public shredding day for papers and also for e-waste.

For those who do find a scrap yard in their area that accepts e-waste, ask them what their procedure is for getting rid of your materials. Some may ship it to larger facilities that have the ability to recycle it properly, while also securely destroying your data.

There are many trustworthy sources out there that can help you find places to bring your e-waste or other scrap to be disposed of properly.

The recycling options are endless for various materials, and there are many opportunities to turn your e-waste into money. By recycling it properly, we can continue to be ahead of the curve in environmental sustainability.

It may not seem like much, but taking small steps and recycling the materials you have can really make a difference in the years to come.

Virginia Buechel is social media and public relations director for iScrap App, a database that allows users to find scrap yards and dealers, as well as media director for Rockaway Recycling, a northern New Jersey scrap yard started by her father more than 30 years ago. Rockaway is now owned and operated by her brother Tom.