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IT disposal....

Community Veteran
Posts: 14,345
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Registered: 01-08-2007

IT disposal....

Hi all
I know tons of you here are in the IT trade so I thought I'd ask your advice!
Well, I'd like to get into the business of IT disposal, removal, refurbishing (and more to the point, scavenging parts for my own machines!) etc.
Trouble is, I don't have great capital to start off with. I figure there must be some places that are in a hurry to get rid of their old IT stuff to make space for upgrades etc..
Anyone got any advice how to get into this?
I need a new signature... i'm bored of the old one!
8 REPLIES
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Re: IT disposal....

Just been vetting companies to do just that!
From our company POV, there are a few points which are important.
1. Data Security
2. Absolution from further responsibility for kit.
Less important for us in a capital sense is confidence in environmentally friendly disposal, but it is a measurable metric when choosing a supplier.
If you want to collect and transport waste, you need a waste carriers license (easy to get, cost around £100 IIRC)
If you want to remove it from your vehicle and process it, you also need a site license for the place you want to handle it (Approved Authorised Treatment Facility).
If you are going to collect CRT monitors for disposal, they are classed as hazardous waste, so you need to have paperwork to document each load before moving it. (FormHWCN01v051 currently)
You also need to do some work on the RoHS Directive, as any company who produces more than 200kg (c10-15 PCs and monitors) per year has to register annually with the Environment Agency. As a supplier of a disposal service, it wouldn't be unreasonable for customers to ask for assistance/advice in doing this.
So, Data Security;
We wipe data using DBAN before HDDs leave site, so we can have a reasonable level of confidence that we are making best endeavours to comply with software licensing rules, and the Data Protection Act. However, its important to us that after the kit leaves our site, similar steps will be taken again by professionals to make doubly sure. The company getting our business wipes the drives using similar tools, the punches the drives twice before sending them for physical shredding.
We have confidence that this is a secure way to dispose of data storage medium.
Absolution from resposibility;
If the kit gets fly tipped somewhere down the line, it could theoretically be traced to us as owners of the kit at some stage.
We must have written evidence detailing serial numbers and descriptions etc, detailing the date that resposibility for the kit was passed to somebody else.
We need to have a company who we have confidence in that this wouldn't ever be needed, but who supplies it anyway. Also accountants like to have proper disposal notes etc.
Following the confidence vein, we have to feel assured that kit will be disposed of responsibly, even once its not our responsibility any more too.
Anybody who goes to the trouble to do all the paperwork/registrations etc, is probably taking the business seriously - anybody else would leave us asking questions.
You could offer to buy kit from companies, because then its not waste - will the company have confidence in data security etc in that case though?
What do you do with stuff you don't want? Presumably you need to pay somebody to take it away, making the balancing act between Profit and Loss much harder. (Especially as selling also carries a cost in terms of your labour)
Buying CRT monitors in a market where people pay to dispose of them seems a little strange - would a company only allow you to buy what you want (ie the stuff that has potential to leak data) and leave the stuff you don't want (which they'll have to pay somebody to get rid of for them anyway)
Could mean using two companies and showing a marginal profit on the deal, versus using one and getting rid of everything with confidence using just one supplier.
Don't want to put a dampner on your plan, but as with any new business, there are lots of questions to be answered before starting out.
Community Veteran
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Re: IT disposal....

The above post was made whilst typing my reply, and it covers a lot more detail than my effort below, but does point out that what seems like a "good idea" to start with, has a lot of "hazards" along the way...

I think it depends on how much equipment you have the room to handle.... A few years ago, I went for a job interview,  to manage an IT recycling unit.  I think it was funded by the local council, and it employed prisoners of low risk, and due for release, to give them the feeling of going to work.  
Most of the IT equipment it re-cycled, was ex school, college, and office stuff that the council had paid for, and some they actually did for another company who only supplied the new equipment....
So if you are thinking of doing it on a small scale, i.e. in your garden shed or garage, you won`t get many systems in there, and have the room to move as well, also, you might find that the new re-cycling regulations regarding electrical equipment will need a lot of "input" financially too.  The place I was hoping to manage was about the size of a small aircraft hanger, and it had tonnes of stuff in there.  Imagine a college upgrading from desktops to laptops..... how many units, how many monitors, how many keyboards, etc etc etc and then what do you do with them? once you have got through half that lot, and another order comes in the door, what do you do then?
Community Veteran
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Registered: 01-08-2007

Re: IT disposal....

Quote from: James_H
Just been vetting companies to do just that!

James, can you tell me more about how you negotiate these disposals?
IE Do you just ask the company to take whatever they can, or do you sell it to them, pay them to take it or what?
Do you find them or do they approach you periodically?
I'm not really put off the idea and found your reply very informative (along with the 2nd). The only thing which I think I would struggle to handle would be CRT monitors. Cases, mobos, memory, mice etc can always be found new homes but CRTs are almost a public enemy now! (Thats not to say I wouldn't find a way to deal with them).
As for HDDs, I've heard of some places having them incinerated (EG NHS). My personal preference would be to erase them multiple times on multiple machines (different clocks thus randomization) rather than completely destroy them.... Or simply use them for my own systems (HDDs are always in short supply at my place!).
Any further info on this industry is very gratefully received!
I need a new signature... i'm bored of the old one!
Community Veteran
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Registered: 05-04-2007

Re: IT disposal....

Quote from: James_H
....
If the kit gets fly tipped somewhere down the line, it could theoretically be traced to us as owners of the kit at some stage.
We must have written evidence detailing serial numbers and descriptions etc, detailing the date that resposibility for the kit was passed to somebody else.
....

Interesting you should say that as recently I have got the police involved in investigating some illegally dumped monitors. I would also add that it is the registered keeper of the vehicle who will be held liable for any illegal act carried out by their vehicle if they do not supply the details of the driver when requested.
notheruser
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Posts: 139
Registered: 08-01-2008

Re: IT disposal....

Safe disposal of hard drives can be a bit of a minfield, though I think there is considerable paranoia around it! Very little pressure on a hard disc will shatter it - Unless you're worried about the FBI or MI5 recovering data, this should do the trick! - 10 seconds work in a pillar drill.
Very low cost software (e.g. Killdisk - http://www.killdisk.com/) will allow you to shred data to DoD standards. This ought to be good enough for anyone. If it's so sensitive that this is not good enough, then the data ought to have been encrypted on the drive to begin with! (Computers get stolen!). If you're still paranoid, physical destruction is the way to go - once a platter is snapped, that's it - no-one's going to read anything off it.
As others have warned, be careful that you don't bite off more than you can chew here! My department regularly disposes of equipment, but we typically get rid of batches of around 50 at a time. That's a lot of space. And do you really think there is big demand for second hand mice and keyboards (particularly older models) when you consider the price of new stuff?
Community Veteran
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Registered: 04-04-2007

Re: IT disposal....

Why pay for Killdisk when Darik's Boot and Nuke http://dban.sourceforge.net/ is free.
Also most 3.5" hard disk platters are manufactured from non ferrous metal, so will not shatter.
Only 2.5" `laptop` drives tend to be made from glass, and you don't need a pillar drill just a ball pein hammer, smack the drive over the platters, and once it rattles your good to throw.
Chilly
notheruser
Grafter
Posts: 139
Registered: 08-01-2008

Re: IT disposal....

Killdisk was just given as an example - there are a multitude of erasers, both free and paid for. If you want one which is certified, as far as I know, you'll have to pay for it. There is a free version of Killdisk, but if you want certification, you buy the pro version. Likewise with DBAN - read the FAQ's -
"Q: Does DBAN have my favorite certification? A: No. If you need a statement of certification, then you must buy an EBAN contract. "
As for platters, the most common material was aluminium, but more manufacturers are turning to glass, and more rigid glass composites, to get improved performance which is not possible with aluminium.
Chilly - The pillar drill is a slightly more refined version of your ball pein hammer - both methods are equally effective - yours is probably more fun!  Grin
Given the difficulty and determination required to recover data from a properly erased drive, whether using "certified" tools or not, I think the chances of anyone finding a drive from an unidentified source, bothering to try and recover data, and actually getting anything of value off the drive, are extremly small. But, it could happen, so for the extremly paranoid, platter destruction is the way to go!
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Re: IT disposal....

Quote from: okrzynska
Quote from: James_H
Just been vetting companies to do just that!

James, can you tell me more about how you negotiate these disposals?

As with everything in this capitalist economy, I have to have 3 quotes first to satisfy myself and the beancounters that the pricing is competitive.
The cheapest isn't always the best value for money (as with everything), so each quote needs putting in order of most preferred to least preferred.
Once a supplier is chosen, I'll set a review period.
During that period (typically annually) I'll use the same supplier each time I need to dispose of something, unless the pricing changes or I feel the market has changed substantially.
Once the review period has been reached, I start the process again, getting at least 3 quotes to satisfy myself that we are still getting a good deal. We may change suppliers, or continue with the same one.
Obviously the decision is documented for reference.
Quote from: okrzynska
IE Do you just ask the company to take whatever they can, or do you sell it to them, pay them to take it or what?

Typically the majority of the stuff has little resale value, so we pay for disposal of each item.
We accept that a few bits might have commercial value, but pragmatically we want our suppliers (of any goods/service) to be profitable, so they can afford to do the job properly and consistently. (And to save us having to re-quote etc every few months when they go bust. Wink)
By the same token, we wouldn't want somebody to cherry-pick the most profitable parts of the business, as it'll simply leave us with harder to dispose of stuff left.
If we got a single company to take the least profitable stuff, it'd likely cost us more per item to dispose of than if they were also getting profitable stuff at the same time.
Quote from: okrzynska
Do you find them or do they approach you periodically?

Throughout the year I get various brochures etc sent to me. I'll often keep a couple hanging about the place for when I need to seek quotes etc.
Word of mouth is useful too (as ever in IT)
Quote from: okrzynska
As for HDDs, I've heard of some places having them incinerated (EG NHS). My personal preference would be to erase them multiple times on multiple machines (different clocks thus randomization) rather than completely destroy them.... Or simply use them for my own systems (HDDs are always in short supply at my place!).

To be honest, I use DBAN (at the recomendation of many in this forum) on all HDDs before they leave the site. I am also lucky that very little is stored locally on our machines, so they are low risk in terms of data loss anyway (but no point being sloppy now is there? Wink
I'm not too bothered about what happens to them once they leave the site, as they are quarantined for long enough here after being erased for any passwords that might be retrieved from them to have been forced to be renewed anyway.
Added to that the effort [& money]  that would need to be expended to retrieve anything, I don't feel too concerned.
~~
One of the things that I find particularly useful is that the supplier looking likely to clinch the deal this year will also take flourescent tubes and sodium lamps.
We don't have a huge number of computer users here for the size of site, but we do have large numbers of lamps throughout the production facility and warehousing which need regular replacement.
We can get rid of them via alternative means, but a one-stop-shop saves enough time for us to pay the 2p more per tube.
Another very useful 'extra' that this company does is to collect the kit from wherever it is. I don't *have* to palletise it all before disposal (although I do as it suits us better that way)
They'll collect the kit from anywhere on site, and take it out to the van by hand, all for the same money.
If you fancy a bit more info on this particular company, feel free to drop me a PM and I'll let you have their details. They offer a nationwide service, so I'm sure you could give them a call and have them post you a brochure out for 'research'. Wink