Key Questions To Ask a Computer Recycler

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Washington, D.C., can hold companies and landfill operations liable for improperly disposing of old equipment if they contract with a questionable computer recycler. In fact, although current regulations and directives are being more clearly defined, the EPA deems the original purchaser of a computer system — not the manufacturer — as the waste generator.

This means if large quantities of computers are found in landfills, the system's purchaser, not the recycler, can face the fines.

Consequently, companies and landfill operators should carefully evaluate vendors before deciding on a computer recycler. Some questions to ask include:

  1. What will happen to the computers once the recycler takes possession? Will they be refurbished? Will they be recycled in their entirety with nothing landfilled? Or will only a portion be recycled?

  2. What will happen to the hard drives and other usable components? For total data security, even usable hard drives should be destroyed, rather than wiped out and sold for reuse.

  3. What are the EPA standards for disposing of old systems, and does the recycler adhere to them?

  4. What are the state laws governing the disposal of old systems, and does the recycler follow them?

  5. What documentation does the recycler provide to the company once a company's systems are recycled?

  6. Are there guarantees or indemnifications that protect the company if the recycler doesn't follow EPA standards?

  7. Are there any statewide incentive programs with tax credits and other perks from which the company can benefit if it disposes of its old systems properly?

  8. If working with a refurbisher, is the company authorized by the major manufacturers to refurbish and resell the equipment?

  9. If equipment is going to be donated, what will happen to the systems if the nonprofit is unable to sell or give them away?

  10. Will old systems ever be transported out of the United States? The power supply only will work in North America. Also, if systems are exported and processed incorrectly, they could violate EPA hazardous waste laws.