ndependent of the business model that information destruction professionals select for their operations, certain
environmental and safety considerations are required when
handling electronic devices. Primarily, “What comes in,
must go out.” That means, if a piece of electronic equipment has a circuit board, it has toxic material. The Resource
Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), which gives the
Environmental Protection Agency the authority to control
hazardous waste from the “cradle-to-grave,” including generation, transportation, treatment, storage and disposal, is not
heavily enforced. However, if a company should get caught
in violation of the RCRA, the fines are expensive.
Because of the potential toxicity of some components,
special handling techniques should be adhered to and workers
should have adequate personal protection equipment.
Also, the liability for mishandling customer data is
potentially very great. Just as with paper documents, once
you take possession of these devices, you are responsible for
safeguarding them. Electronic media and devices are also
easier to steal, easily fitting in a pocket, and contain great
volumes of information.
Finally, there are logistics issues to consider. Electronic
devices are heavy and do not ship conveniently or easily.
After considering these liability issues, an information
destruction professional can enter the electronics recycling
realm in a number of ways.
OPPORTUNITIES IN E-DESTRUCTION
Some document destruction professionals enter the business
passively, in that they are not really marketing IT destruction
services, but are asked by their existing customers to handle
their IT equipment or electronic storage devices. In some
cases, these document destruction companies are not really
interested in handling electronics, but they don’t want to risk
losing a customer or allowing a competitor to get a foothold
in their accounts.
Protecting their accounts is a considerable motivating
factor, because document destruction companies are not the
only firms exploring adding services. Computer recyclers are
looking into adding document
destruction services, and waste
haulers are exploring adding
e-destruction services and document destruction services.
Other document destruction professionals are actively
looking for opportunities in
electronics recycling or electronic media destruction.
They have made a conscious decision to provide e-destruction
services to existing
and new customers
or are responding to
a competitor’s foray
into this segment.
Also, a key customer
could request e-destruction services, creating
an opportunity for the
firm that warrants the
expenditure of capital and
the diversion of resources
to make it happen.
Editor’s Note: “Don’t dabble in information technology asset management,” suggests Angie Singer
Keating, vice president of corporate security and compliance for Tyron, Pa.-based Reclamere Inc.,
an IT asset management company that specializes in data security and environmental compliance.
“Figure out your model and go for it.”
Singer, who has been appointed chair of the National Association for Information Destruction
Inc. (NAID) Certification Rules Committee, offered her words of advice to document destruction
professionals who were interested in offering hard drive destruction services during the 2007 NAID
Annual Conference. This feature is an edited version of her presentation from the event, which was
April 11-13 in Orlando.