Archive for May, 2011

It seems that I read an article every week about some e-waste drive or a new charity that accepts electronics.  Which is great!…..But in retrospect, I can’t help but wonder what really happens to those electronics.

The truth of the matter is I do know what happens to those electronics because I work for a certified electronics recycler, CompuCycle.  Do those donating or recycling know what is happening to their old electronics? Most of them, do not. 

I have no doubt the people hosting e-waste drives and charities accepting electronics have the best intentions. However, unscrupulous “recyclers” often pray on the good intentions of the public. It all boils down to a lack of education about the importance of using certified electronics recyclers.

One staggering statistic released by watchdog, The Basel Action Network, states that up 80% of electronics recyclers are not actually recycling the equipment, but are exporting to developing countries where the electronics are banged with rocks, burned with acid or set on fire, often by children.  

If you are ready to part with old, outdated or surplus electronics, these are the questions you should ask before you hand over your electronics, whether it’s a charity (intended for reuse) or an e-waste drive (intended for recycling): 

Questions for a charity:

1. How does the charity erase the data?

It is important to know that simply deleting the data from the hard drive or formatting the hard drive does not erase the data. Both processes really just remove the information the hard drive needs to find the data, not the data itself. Deleted files can be undeleted and formatted hard drives can be recovered.

To be sure that data is removed beyond all practical ability to recover it, a wiping or erasing utility should be used. These tools overwrite every sector of the hard drive with binary 1’s and 0’s. Those that meet Department of Defense security standards even overwrite each sector multiple times for added protection.

2. What happens to equipment that charities can not reuse?

Donations of unusable equipment often burden charities with the task of getting rid of what can not be fixed or reused.  Many small charities often have no means of properly disposing of the material. It is important to only give working equipment (usually that 5 years old or newer and has the operating system already installed) so that the charity can productively use the equipment.

If the charity does not have a clear plan of action, equipment that cannot be used may ultimately end up in a dumpster destined for a landfill.

At CompuCycle, we have a Charitable Donation program where we can clean, fix and install the operating system for you to donate to your chosen charity.


Questions to ask at a E-waste or E-cycling Drive:

1. Is the company handling the electronics a certified electronics recycler? (either R2 or E-steward Certified)

If the company handling the electronics is not a certified electronics recycler, then there is no guarantee that the electronics are being recycled properly.  Certificates of  recycling and pledges mean nothing if there is no Third-Party Certification.

There are only two certifications that guarantee responsible recycling in the United States: R2 (Responsible Recycling) Certification, which is accredited  by the US Environmental Protection Agency, and The Basel Action Network’s E-Steward Certification.

Many companies may claim certification by saying that they are “EPA Approved,” have “EPA Approved Facility” or have a “EPA Permit”.  The EPA does not “approve” anyone.  The EPA will issue a Hazardous Waste Permit to track the transportation of  hazardous waste. This does not apply to electronics as they are not classified as hazardous waste. The permit requires no third party audit or site visit of any kind.

It also important to know that “E-steward Pledged” is different from being certified.  The pledge, while it indicates intentions of responsible recycling, does not indicate that the company has been audited by a third-party and thus certified.

All certified companies are listed on organization websites.

R2 Certified Recyclers


E-Steward Certified Recyclers


2. How does the company  ensure data destruction?

If the company reuses the hard drive, it is important that they use Department of Defense Compliant Erasure Software  (DoD 5220.22-M).  At CompuCycle, we use Blancco software.

If the company is simply recycling the hard drives, the drives should be shredded using an industrial strength shredder intend for this purpose.

Some companies may use a drill press to destroy the drives, experts however maintain that data may still be extracted if the drive is not totally crushed as it would be in a shredder.

When you use a Certified Electronics Recycler, you can be assured that your electronics are being responsibly recycled and that your information is completely destroyed.  Here at CompuCycle, we pride our self on being the first electronics recycler in Houston to obtain certification.  Whether you are looking to recycle your outdated equipment or donate surplus equipment, CompuCycle has the knowledge and tools to ensure you are completely satisfied. 

Residents may drop of their e-waste at CompuCycle Monday – Friday at no charge.  A nominal fee is charged for TVs only.


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First, let me introduce myself. My name is Julianna Watkins and I am the current Marketing Manager for CompuCycle. If you notice the date of the last blog post (December 11, 2009),  you know that CompuCycle has been long out of the blogosphere. Today, I found out that CompuCycle had a blog. I have been with CompuCycle since August of 2010.  So here we go.

Here’s what has a happened since December 2009 in 1.5 mins (hopefully) (and minus personnel changes)

– September 2010, CompuCycle Logo Change

Old CompuCycle Logo

Out with the old and in with the new

New CompuCycle Logo

New Logo, What do you think??

–  Saturday, November 12, 2010 – Galveston County Hazardous Household Waste Collection
Gulf Greyhound Park in La Marque
View photos in Flickr

– February 28, 2011 – CompuCycle Is First Houston Firm To Achieve EPA “R2” Responsible Electronics Recycler
Read the Release  

– Monday, 07 Mar 2011 -CompuCycle featured on FOX 26
Learn More

– Friday, April 15, 2011 – 156,888 lbs. of E-waste Recycled from ABC13’s Earth Day Houston 2011 E-cyling Drive
View Photos in Flickr

There has been a lot of change at CompuCycle, I hope that was quick  and enough of a transition to the new era of the CompuCycle Blog.  So stay tuned!

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