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Electronic Recycling

Think You Want to Donate Your Computer?Think Again.

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A young man holding a sign that says donate old computers.

With the best intentions, warm-hearted citizens donate their computers to organizations that promise to refurbish computers and send them to the less fortunate. Unfortunately, there is an alarming mishandling when it comes to electronic donations. In most cases, the charity doesn’t want or need them. I know this for a fact because we pick up tons of electronics from charitable organizations. What we don’t pick up, I’m afraid to tell you that more than 90% end up in a foreign country. Children, along with adults, strip and burn to get the scrap metals in dangerous environments. What happens to the rest of the computer? Plastic, glass, and other materials with little value end up in the rivers and soils.

BAN, Basel Action Network, uses GPS trackers to follow used electronics. According to the BAN, several companies ship scrap printers and LCD monitors to Asia.* This is nothing new. Every year or so, I read about another refurbishing and dumping scam.

If you don’t care about what it’s doing to foreign countries and the earth, care about yourself. If you have someone who tells you your hard drive has been wiped, that should give you minimal comfort. On average, it takes seven hours for a hard drive to be properly wiped. I know because our company used to wipe hard drives. Wiping hard drives is time-consuming and cost-prohibitive; therefore, companies with limited integrity often bypass complete erasing.

In January of 2016, we read that over 40% of the used hard drives sold online still have data on them. A business associate told me about her experience with a local computer repair shop. Her hard drive could not be saved, so the shop put a used hard drive on her computer. When she powered up the computer, all the pictures, web history, and passwords were still on the hard drive. Is that a reason to ensure your computers are properly recycled and data destroyed?

Since January 2016, when we read about the hard drives sold online, Urban E Recycling stopped wiping and started shredding. All hard drives we pick up from our customers are shredded. The only exception is when a customer requested degaussing of their hard drives for warranty reasons. Yes, we get far less money for the scrap metal in hard drives than we would if we wiped and sold them, but we have a promise to our customers. Nothing that can be recognized and related to them will leave our warehouse.

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A woman in a green dress holding a laptop shows her commitment to sustainability.

Mother Nature doesn’t want your old computers but we do. 


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Mother Nature doesn’t want your old computers but we do. 

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