by Westech Recyclers Media
What happens with your electronics?
Now that you’ve gone through the effort of donating your electronics for recycling, you naturally want to know: “What happens to my stuff?”
Our first task is to weigh all the electronics that we receive. By weighing everything coming in and going out, we can hold ourselves accountable. Keeping track of the weights is an easy way to measure how we are doing against our zero-landfill policy.
After weighing, your electronics go to our sorting process.
In sorting, our experienced employees pull off to the side anything that could contain data. It’s obvious that personal computers and cell phones have data, but some items like home security cameras could contain IP addresses. It takes seasoned eyes to spot those items with hidden data. We separate these items and send them off to our data destruction process.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) provides scientific guidance on how to properly destroy data found in electronics (NIST SP 800-88). The US Federal Government must follow NIST’s guidance, and we follow NIST’s guidance as well.
Understanding and following NIST guidance is one thing that makes an electronics recycler different from regular curbside recycling. Curbside recycling deals with common household materials aiming to sort waste materials properly. In comparison, an electronics recycler needs expertise in IT technology.
Per NIST guidance, digital data is either wiped, which is overwriting the disk with random unrecognizable data, purged, or physically shredded. With any of the three methods, your data is destroyed.
Recycling Electronics for the Circular Economy
After separating data containing devices, our employees then look to see what items could be reused since reusing electronics is the best thing for the environment. As you can imagine, keeping an item longer in service means that a new one is not manufactured. Now you might be concerned about the economy and supporting growth by always buying new, but buying reused electronics locally means that the money stays here. Westech Recyclers is a local small business providing good jobs which then keeps the money in our local economy.
Items that cannot be reused are then dismantled, also known as de-manufacturing, into basic commodity materials. We quickly breakdown electronics into wire, plastic, steel, aluminum, circuit boards, heat sinks, fans, power supplies, cardboard, etc. These commodity components and materials are then sent to other recyclers for further processing. Processed core commodities are sent back into the manufacturing stream again. This complete cycle is what is meant by a circular economy.
Technical expertise isn’t limited only to data destruction. Those electronics that were identified for reuse are sent to our technical teams for testing and refurbishing, and then for resale. Testing is not just a simple plug in and watch for blinky-lights-type of test; we run automated test programs to thoroughly test the hardware. Our technicians complete the refurbishment by adding RAM memory, a tested hard drive, or an operating system.
Speed and timeliness are also important elements in our operation and to the recycling industry in general. Old electronics will not get better with age and they lose their potential for reuse the longer it sits. Thus, we process electronics as soon as possible so that we can turn around refurbished electronics or commodity materials quickly.
For those folks that are already recycling electronics, we thank you. If you want to help save the planet even more, please encourage your friends and neighbors as well. A small effort from everyone will help us change to a more sustainable world.