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E-Recycling Reporting: Make Sure You Have the Proper Documentation

There’s more to the process of recycling computers than data erasure and shredding hardware. In order to remain compliant with the environmental and data security laws pertinent to their industry, businesses need proper documentation. Most computer recycling companies offer at least one of these 3 major types of reporting to their clients:

Weight Based Reporting is the cheapest option and offers no protection to the client. In a weight-based report, for example, a client that recycles 20 laptops would receive a report that says “98 pounds of E-waste Recycled”. Unfortunately, this client would not be able to prove that a particular laptop was recycled if it came into question,  just that 98 pounds of laptops were recycled. So in an audit, or if a legal defense was required, weight-based certificates of recycling are insufficient. Clients who choose this option do so based on cost and may not realize that they are putting themselves at risk.

Count-based Reporting also offers no protection to the client, is slightly more expensive than weight-based reporting because the recycler needs to count each piece. In a count-based report, for example, a client that recycles 20 laptops would get a report that says “20 Laptops Recycled”.  This client would also not be able to prove that a particular laptop (or hard drive for that matter) was recycled if it came into question, just that 20 laptops were recycled.  So in an audit, or if a legal defense was required, count-based certificates of recycling are insufficient. Like weight-based reporting, clients who choose this option do so because it is cost-effective, but are putting themselves at risk.

Serial Number Based Reporting is the only type of reporting that even begins to allow the client to be in an auditable or defensible position. In a serial number based report, a client who recycles 20 laptops would get a report that indicates the serial number of each laptop AND the serial number of each hard drive contained within those laptops. The reports would prove the documented disposition of all equipment listed; any laptop or hard drive listed on that report that came into question could be looked up by serial number. However, not all serial number based exports are created equal — only some of them are considered “audit ready”.

So, what happens if a recycled laptop ends up in an environmental incident? What would you need to do to build a defense? Stay tuned for our upcoming post in which we answer these questions and review the different types of serial number based reports by delving deeper into “audit ready” reporting.

Read part II!

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