As technology grows outdated at an increasing pace and businesses rush to adapt to rapidly evolving markets and disruptive technologies, companies are finding themselves replacing obsolete computers, outdated cell phones and other electronic equipment at an ever increasing rate. This begs the question — does your business have a plan to safely manage this enormous influx of e-waste?
Properly disposing of electronic waste is more than an environmental consideration. E-waste is turning up in the hands of counterfeiters around the world, who pass on recovered and refurbished parts as authentic components to unsuspecting businesses. Your products — and your brand — may be at risk.
A Growing Concern
In the U.S., people discard around 2.9 million tons of electronics a year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Having a rigorous process to defend your supply chain from counterfeit parts is essential to any business.
Disposing of electronic equipment properly will help ensure the e-waste will not enter the counterfeit market, protecting you from liability claims if the electronic waste is later traced back to your company. Additionally, there are a number of other risks, adds Mike Thoma, Global Technology Chief Underwriting Officer at Travelers. “A company can find itself liable for damages caused by hazardous waste,” says Thoma. “Other risks include employee injuries from handling toxins, unintentional breaches of private data and regulatory non-compliance.”
“At Travelers, we want to help companies manage this growing risk with a thoughtful e-waste strategy that considers the hazards associated with disposing of hardware and clearing or destroying data,” said Thoma. “For example, while many people know that it’s important to examine a laptop for sensitive data before disposing of it, it may not be so obvious that a copier should be examined as well.”
Many of the newer copier models are multi-functional devices with hard drives, Thoma explains, functioning as network printers as well as copiers. At the end of a lease or when the machines need to be replaced, companies may be at substantial exposure to data loss.
Following, we offer a model for responsible e-cycling, to help companies be sure e-waste is handled appropriately.