End of Life: what to do with old IT equipment

Data protection and data destruction are now at the forefront of enterprises‘ minds when they have to dispose of old IT assets.

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End of Life: what to do with old IT equipment Phillip Hughes managing director of Sims Recycling says that IT assets can be software data destroyed at the Jebel Ali factory before it is broken down into its components.
By  Georgina Enzer Published  March 24, 2013

Data protection and data destruction are now at the forefront of enterprises‘ minds when they have to dispose of old IT assets. Recycling old or obsolete IT assets is not as simple as dumping them in a landfill; we talk to Sims Recycling Solutions UAE to discover how the IT asset recycling process works.

It is a complex and daunting task to manage IT assets and their associated data through to the end of the assets’ useful life. Assets quickly become obsolete as newer, more efficient equipment becomes available. Disposing of old network equipment can be both hazardous to the environment and complex, it is not as simple as just dumping your equipment in a landfill.

According to Huawei, the damage of electronic waste to the eco-environment cannot be underestimated. Statistics show that over 4000 tonnes of electronic waste are generated each hour worldwide but less than 10% of electronic and electrical waste has been properly recycled. At each stage of electronic waste treatment, a great deal of toxic heavy metal and toxic organic compound has the risk of being  released to the environment of factories and their surrounding soil, air, and water bodies. The root cause is such hazardous materials have been used during the phases of electronic product design, production, and manufacturing.

The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE Directive) was introduced into UK law in January 2007. The Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment Regulations 2006 aim to prevent the generation of waste electronic and electrical equipment and promote the reuse and recycling of the waste equipment generated to reduce waste treatment.

“The WEEE Directive also seeks new methods to boost environment protection awareness of all operating personnel involved in the electronic and electrical equipment life cycle, including producers, vendors, and consumers, especially those directly involved in treating the waste electronic and electrical equipment,” explains Steven Huang, director of Solutions and Marketing, Huawei Enterprise, Middle East.

Requirements of WEEE Directive for IT and communications industries are that 75% by product weight of materials can be recycled and reused and that 65% by weight of materials are materials recycled (up to 10% of energy recycled).

Regional recycling
End-of-Life asset management is a developed industry worldwide, but is fairly new in the UAE. Sims Recycling Solutions’ UAE branch is one of only a small handful or IT asset recycling firms in the Middle East region.

“Old IT kit gets thrown away and stuck in landfills or sent to China and Africa and pollutes the planet. If you talk to someone in Europe, there are two buzzwords: deployment and decommissioning – down here it is a lot more complex,” says Phillip Hughes, managing director of Sims Recycling. “Four years ago, no one understood data destruction whatsoever in the UAE; now companies are beginning to understand data destruction is the biggest problem the Middle East has come across in IT, because enterprises have been buying computers and IT since 1980 and using hard drives.”

“Whether it is a hospital that looks after a Sheikh, or if it is a police car who has caught someone speeding who happens to be a family member, information gets put away and people can find it. Suddenly people in the region have realised that just keeping hard drives in cupboards is not the way to go,” he explains.

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