29% of SMBs Mishandle IT Hardware Disposal

29% of SMBs Mishandle IT Hardware Disposal

By Stefania Viscusi

A new 2023 IT Management Survey by Capterra reveals that as growing businesses rush to upgrade hardware, nearly one-third (29%) of IT professionals at small and midsize businesses in the U.S. are using improper IT hardware disposal practices. This trend is causing security and environmental concerns.

Many businesses are simply throwing computers, routers, and other IT assets into the trash, which not only poses a serious security risk but also violates certain state laws that prohibit the disposal of certain types of IT equipment. Moreover, it is causing improper disposal of sensitive data when decommissioning IT hardware. There are privacy laws like GDPR and industry regulations such as HIPAA, GLBA, and PCI-DSS that must be adhered to. Addressing these concerns is crucial for businesses to ensure both data security and environmental sustainability during hardware upgrades.

According to the findings, SMBs are holding onto aging IT hardware for an average of 2.7 years with a majority disposing of  them appropriately through recycling (80%), redeployment (65%), reselling (62%), or donating to charity (54%).

The other 29% of businesses that are disposing of old hardware inappropriately can attribute disorder as the main factor for the behavior, rather than cost or the availability of reputable e-waste vendors. Lack of organization presents a challenge for 62% of SMBs engaging in improper IT hardware disposal, compared to only 42% of businesses that responsibly dispose of assets. Also, irresponsible disposers face difficulties in maintaining a chain of custody, a requirement often imposed by industry regulations, which correlates with their struggles in organizing.

Instead of throwing hardware into the garbage, businesses should consider hiring an IT asset disposition vendor (ITAD) or a reputable e-waste vendor. Working with an established company with a track record of responsible data destruction and compliance with e-waste standards. Additionally, businesses can explore recycling programs offered by the manufacturers or retailers from whom they purchased their equipment.

Zach Capers, a senior security analyst at Capterra, emphasizes that while growing businesses may face challenges in managing used IT assets, they must avoid taking the easy way out.

“For quickly growing businesses, it’s easy to imagine a scenario where used IT assets begin to build up and, amid competing priorities, a decision is made to take the easy way out. However, there are serious environmental, legal, and regulatory implications of improper IT asset disposal, and businesses should therefore prioritize responsible disposition processes.”

Edited by Greg Tavarez
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