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Why Is Electronic Waste Hazardous?

Why Is Electronic Waste Hazardous?

Most people are familiar with the concept of waste – the massive drive to increase the recycling of household rubbish and the recent upsurge in fly-tipping during the Covid-19 pandemic have pushed the problem of waste disposal to the forefront of people’s minds. However, electronic waste (also known as e-waste) is a separate problem, with the United Nations estimating that over 48 million tonnes were generated globally in 2018, of which only one-fifth is recycled.

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Electronic waste is a growing problem, and one that every business in the UK needs to take seriously.

What Is Electronic Waste?

According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), electronic waste is any electrical device that has reached the end of its lifespan. For businesses, this includes computer hardware, monitors, printers, tablet computers, and LED light bulbs, but e-waste also includes vending machines, fridges, freezers, and solar panels.

Why Is E-waste Hazardous?

Unwanted IT equipment often contains harmful elements that can cause damage to the environment and human health, if assets are disposed of in a landfill or incinerated. For example, lead, cadmium, and chromium can leak into waterways or soil, contaminating ecosystems, and food chains. At the same time, toxic smoke from burning equipment can cause health problems for locals, including respiratory conditions and cancer.

E-waste and Data Security

E-waste that contains the personal data of customers or employees also poses a data security risk. Failing to erase personal data beyond recoverability means identities can be stolen, or unauthorised access can be obtained to sensitive financial information or accounts. Customers and employees need the reassurance that all their data will be permanently destroyed when IT assets are disposed of, for their security and peace of mind.

How Should Electronic Waste Be Disposed Of?

The disposal of electrical and electronic equipment is underpinned by The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulations (WEEE) 2013, to reduce how much waste is sent to landfill.

However, where IT equipment is concerned, the destruction of sensitive personal data is governed by separate legislation. The Data Protection Act (which incorporates the GDPR) stipulates that all data should be destroyed so that it cannot be recovered. Otherwise, it could be used for fraud or identity theft, jeopardising the livelihoods and financial security of individuals and businesses.

Asset Disposal with Absolute ITAD

At Absolute ITAD, our data sanitisation and asset disposal service ensure that your business can dispose of its unwanted hardware safely, without compromising your clients’ data or posing a risk to the environment. As a trusted and ethical recycling partner, our zero-harm policy enables us to achieve a 0% landfill rate, while we adhere to the ADISA Standards to guarantee best practice at every stage of the data sanitisation and recycling process.

For more information on our data sanitisation service, download our free ‘Guide to Mobile Data Sanitisation.’

 

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