Brice Bunner
Asset Management

The 7 deadly sins of retired IT assets


Trashing IT assets is stupid

Information Technology. We love it and we love to hate it. It’s what makes our businesses work, but it can cost enough to put us out of business. There are reasons to mistrust your IT assets, but many of those reasons can be non-issues when using the right ITAM or ITAD company.

A brief introduction to ITA M & D

If you’ve been in business any length of time, you know that technology comes with a growing list of devices, software, and peripherals. These things are called IT assets. Okay, you may already know that, but when assets add up, a management system needs to be put into action to curtail any loss of items or repairs that might be needed.

For larger businesses, the first time they upgrade, IT Asset Management (ITAM) is absolutely necessary. The management can include tracking current equipment, repairing damaged or updating End-of-Life (EOL) equipment, and retiring technology when upgrades are no longer an option.

ITAM can be done in-house for small businesses with less than 10 employees. However, for more employees, or for a more efficient management process, prudent businesses employ an ITAM/ITAD company to handle their IT devices, freeing the IT department to do what you originally hired them to do.

Okay, let's get to the sins of ITAD...

ITAD is necessary when those assets are Dispositioned (The big D), or disposed of. For many ITAD companies, this happens within feet of the loading dock where they receive your EOL electronics. But in being too eager to shred and forget your devices, those ITAD companies are leading you to commit 7 deadly sins:

  1. The sin of Security (of latent Data) – Though you may have retired that PC years ago, it still contains data that you don’t want in the wrong hands. And that includes phones and tablets as well. You could shred everything, but that commits another sin (which we'll get to in a minute).

To deal with retired devices and not incur security wrath, use industry-leading erasure software that adheres to the NIST 800-88 guidelines for media sanitization of your devices. This leaves a 100% clean hard drive to potentially sell or donate, instead of just a useless pile of shaved precious metals and broken rare-earth magnets.

  1. Legal hold (for sensitive Data) – "Oops, that ITAD employee just shredded a hard drive that had Mrs. Merriweather’s critical data on it and now the court proceedings are inconclusive." Congratulations, you’ve inadvertently committed the sin of Quarantine.

Again, with the right ITAD company, you will have a staging area—or legal hold—to keep these assets in status until they are needed or you're assured they are no longer needed.

  1. The sin of e-Waste (of recycled tech) – If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, there's no need for me to go into the evils of e-waste. But hold on, we said this sin happens with recycled tech? And you thought recycling was good.

Recycling when absolutely necessary is hands-down the best option for dispositioned technology. The problem is, many of the recyclers in the industry don’t actually recycle technology—they just ship it off to another country instead.

When recycling technology, be sure to use an e-Stewards certified recycler. e-Stewards is the only certification that is fully aligned to the global treaty of the Basel Convention and the exportation of hazardous waste, which means it's the only certification that looks out for this kind of sin being committed.

  1. The sin of Lost Revenue (from premature recycling) – Remember the shredding that some of the ITAD companies out there are so eager to get to? At the end of the day, all you’re left with is a pile of scraps—worth next to nothing. Instead of shredding hard drives and memory chips, why not wipe them clean and resell them?

By repurposing or redeploying IT assets that have been wiped of their data, your business can gain revenue from the resale or reuse of those perfectly-viable devices. At Sage we do this through our online Sage Store, or through Employee Purchase Programs and share those profits with the businesses who provided the technology.

We also redeploy existing--and often upgraded--devices within a company to save them money that would otherwise be spent to purchase new items. Computers for interns or seasonal bumps in staff are circumstances repurposed tech can help with fairly often. Jumping the gun on recycling End-of-Life devices will almost always be a huge loss to your company.

  1. The sin of Community needs (that go unmet) – You can’t be a business in this country without having a plan to benefit the community in place. Between good sense, customer loyalty, and the Community Reinvestment Act, the chips are down.

When you shred your old IT assets, you're overlooking another great opportunity for value. Though that laptop or smartphone might not be good enough for your business, it’s probably a dream come true for organizations and communities who can’t afford new technology.

By completely sanitizing the data on your device, Sage is able to clean and revamp retired assets to donate to schools, organizations, and charities across the country. Our GoodTogether program is designed to make the process seamless and stress-free, allowing you to become the hero with your retired technology.

  1. The sin of Inefficiency (in losing value) – An asset by definition is something that provides value to your business or personal situation. Why then, would you destroy an asset through shredding or dispositioning your IT devices?

Sadly, this is what many businesses do for no other reason than because they just don’t know any better. Sage was created to bring sustainability into the wasteful IT industry. We see value in every last hard drive or SIM chip we handle. It’s this outlook that allows us to increase the efficiency of our customers’ IT assets.

By refurbishing IT assets that might not be up to snuff with your business’s needs, we can make it viable for other areas within your company. This not only makes more use of an existing asset your company owns, but it eliminates the cost of needlessly purchasing completely new technology.

Don't think you'll ever need that old tech? With the recent rash of environmental disasters, businesses can't be too sure in their current stock of hardware. There have been several times where the assets we hold for our customers are called back into service because offices get hit by some natural event. The savings in minimizing downtime alone has saved these customers hundreds of thousands of dollars.

  1. The sin of Unsustainability (through misuse) – The seventh sin with IT assets, as we see it, is in how unsustainable it is to overlook the value still latent within your devices. Your gadgets have more to give! We preach this time and time again, because businesses and individuals overlook the value of the devices that have lost their "new-gadget smell."

We get it. We see the sexy ads and the shiny new packaging. We’re not saying it’s easy to say "no" to the new array of features and hyper-pixelated screens. But we are saying there is still so much life your end-of-life tech has to give. After all, it's only reached the end of your life, not necessarily the end of its life.


Regardless of who you have do your ITAM and ITAD, it only makes good sense to capture as much value back from your devices as possible before recycling them (with an e-Stewards recycler, that is). Only by looking at your IT assets through the lens of sustainability will you see opportunities for your devices that might have gone unnoticed otherwise.

Hero Image ©: wiseGEEK

We’ve got another dose of this topic here:It's time to unlock the secret within your IT assets

ITAM Secrets Part I: Why IT Assets Are The Cornerstone For Your Business



About Sage

Sage Sustainable Electronics leads the market in sustainable IT asset management and disposition (ITAD) by reusing more and recycling less. Every year, businesses retire millions of used-but-still-useful technology products, creating the fastest growing business and consumer waste stream in the world. We strategically and passionately help companies reuse more and recycle less than anyone else in the industry.

For Businesses: Schedule a pickup for your retired computers, servers, printers and more.

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