You’re the procurement specialist for a household appliances manufacturer and you’ve just crossed a big task off your list. You wanted to find the best secure product disposition specialist so you made a list and narrowed it down. You selected a company and they just picked up five skids of defective washing machines for destruction. Success!
Not so fast. While you may think the principle of “out of sight, out of mind” applies when it comes to recycling, it may not. Worse yet, there could be a giant liability lurking just around the corner depending on which company you chose for disposition of your e-waste.
What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
The risks of not ensuring for secure product disposition are real. They include:
- legal liability if your company’s product was not actually destroyed;
- the misappropriation of financial or personal information that was supposed to have been destroyed but wasn’t; and
- environmental damage from components of your company’s product that were not disposed of properly.
How an Ethical Recycler Works
Here’s an example that shows what an ethical recycler does. A well-known electronics manufacturer sent a trailer load of microwaves to Quantum in Toronto. These were new $200 microwaves that were marked as not for resale after the truck that was transporting them for distribution was involved in an accident. The microwaves were ordered to be destroyed and the job was promptly completed.
However, Clayton Miller, Vice President, Business Development with Quantum Lifecycle Partners, notes that this shipment could have easily netted a dishonest recycler more than $100,000 if they sold the new microwaves out their back door. To add insult to injury, the unethical recycler could do this while charging the customer for the disposition!
How to Avoid a Product Disposition Problem
Miller acknowledges that the odds of a worst-case scenario situation are not high. Still, do you really want to take a chance? He recommends four best practices to avoid any issues.
First, look for the appropriate certifications. At a minimum, R2 certifies that a recycler actually is recycling your goods and that they have been audited on the grounds of doing what they say they do. In addition, NAID membership (National Association for Information Destruction) indicates awareness of and adherence to best practices for data security. Other certifications to look for include OES and RQO approval.
Second, ask a prospective recycler for an hour tour of their facility. You want to see evidence that they are doing what they say they do. Look for safe working conditions and an organized facility. A recycler who is doing things properly will be proud to show off.
Third, ask for a Certificate of Destruction (CoD). Any reputable and fully certified recycler will be more than happy to provide this as it demonstrates their commitment to ethical practices.
Finally, ask the recycler to include in the contract the exact point when the assets become the legal property of the recycler. You want this to happen as early as possible in the process. The best case is that your company’s assets become the vendor’s assets as soon as they leave your dock. The next best case is your company’s assets become the vendor’s assets the moment they arrive at the vendor’s dock. This absolves you of liability and helps make clear who is responsible for what and at which stage of the process.
Managing secure product disposition successfully “is all about cost avoidance and liability reduction but there can be an upfront cost sometimes,” explains Miller. “You get what you pay for with a recycler. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”