What to consider: Selecting the right electronics recycling & asset management vendor


Courtesy of Dynamic Recycling

As the sales executive with an R2 & ISO-14001 certified electronics recycling, scrap purchasing, and asset management corporation, I could write all day about why I think Dynamic Recycling should be your e-recycling vendor. I would rather provide you with the appropriate information to conduct your own evaluation/analysis of what to look for in choosing a recycler that is the right fit for your organization’s needs and expectations. The following article will provide added value to your search for a reliable, responsible, and service driven recycler who will accommodate all of your electronics recycling and asset recovery needs.

Environmental Responsibility:

A. Electronics Recycling Certifications:

There are two highly recognized industry certifications that set the playing field for proper electronics disposal practices and environmental standards for appropriate electronics recycling, asset recovery and e-scrap commodity processing. These certifications are considered throughout the industry as the most important aspect in an electronics recycler’s standard for environmental responsibility.

Although there are several opinions as to which certification is superior and contains the best standards, but I will leave that up to you to decide, as both certifications promote environmentally sustainable methods for electronics recycling. I have provided you the links to both certifications website’s below:

B. International Organization for Standardization (ISO):

The International Organization for Standardization otherwise known as ISO, provides management standards; ISO-14001 & ISO-9001, to the electronics recycling industry within the areas of Environmental (14001) and Quality Management (9001). Each of these standards are recognized globally and considered management standards within the world’s economy. I have listed links to both the Environmental Management (IS0-14001) and Quality Management (ISO-9001) standards. Both standards should be understood and considered when evaluating an electronics recycler for its services.
Environmental Management ISO-14001: 2008 http://www.iso.org/iso/iso_catalogue/management_and_leadership_standards/quality_management.htm

Quality Management ISO-9001:2004 http://www.iso.org/iso/iso_catalogue/management_and_leadership_standards/environmental_management.htm

C. Internal Safety Standards and State Legislation Compliance

This section is also considered an important part in evaluating and selecting an electronics recycling vendor. Each state has standards for pollution liability, facility and grounds regulations/standards, zoning, etc. It is a crucial part in the vendor selection process, to make sure that they possess and can provide you with the correct documents that prove their compliance with state/federal laws and regulations. Common documents that different state departments require:

  1. Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan
  2. Pollution Liability Insurance in relation to State mandated coverage amounts
  3. Annual or more frequent air testing of facility (OSHA Requirement)
  4. DNR Registration and EPA ID Number
  5. Zero Landfill Ban for Electronics (this is not mandated law by any state governments, but often preferred)
  6. Financially Guaranteed Closure Plan: Guarantees that your company is not held liable if the recycler goes out of business due to pollution caused by materials your company is responsible for sending them.
  7. OSHAS 18001 international Health and Safety Management System


Data Security: Standards for Data Destruction & Sanitization

A. Methods for Data Destruction and Sanitation

There are two common ways to destroy the data found on your company’s hard drives, media devices, usb’s, and cellular devices.

One of those ways is to electronically clear, purge, and/or wipe date from the hard drive or data containing device. This allows you to continue to utilize the device for its general purposes but with no previously existing information remaining on the device for further users to obtain.

The other side of the data destruction coin is the standard for physical destruction of the data containing device. Specifically pertaining to hard drive destruction; shredding or perforating the hard drive are two highly recognized processes in physically destroying the data within the device as well as the device itself.

B. Data Destruction/Sanitation Standards

There are three common standards/certifications for Data Destruction as recognized within the electronics recycling and asset management industry. When recycling devices that contain sensitive data please audit your selected electronics recycling vendor and make sure they are destroying data to one or more the below stated standards:

  1. National Association of Information Destruction: NAID Certification http://www.naidonline.org/forms/cert/26_cert-app-sanitization.pd
  2. Department of Defense Data Destruction: DoD 5220.22M Standard http://www.usaid.gov/policy/ads/500/d522022m.pdf
  3. National Institute of Standards and Technology: NIST 800-88 Standard http://csrc.nist.gov/publications/nistpubs/800-88/NISTSP800-88_rev1.pdf

Customer Service and Value of Services Provided:

A. Value of Service over Price

I believe in the old saying “You get what you pay for”. I find this true in many situations personally but also in business. The electronics recycling industry is a perfect example of this saying. There are recyclers who will provide the jaw dropping lowest price, but I wouldn’t be so quick to jump on to their ship. There are several factors including all of the information previously provided, that play important roles in dictating a recycling corporation’s pricing structure and profit margins.

B. The Cost of Doing Things Right

When recycling, there are companies that promote themselves through the value in the services they provide. We need to allow ourselves to step away from the “cut to the chase and get to the price mindset”, and allow yourself to understand what the recycler can do for your company in providing the best services. Being able to provide the best services doesn’t come cheap for the recycler and in some occasions for their customers.  Through the money recyclers continue to invest in the following; R2 and/or E-Stewards certified certifications, fully securing their facility (24/7 surveillance, keycard access, etc.) paying their workers, and purchasing and maintaining equipment to be able to meet/exceed customer’s data destruction, reporting, and processing standards. These items are just a small chunk of the cost that recycling corporations take on, to ensure that the customer’s recycling expectations are being met and done in the right manner for years to come. Only then, can we truly be honest in saying we can provide, you the customer, the highest value through the services we provide. Most of us understand, that when we pay top dollar for something, we expect it to last. Not only it what the product or service provides to us but in the quality of what is provided through the product or service.

C. The Cost in Getting the Cheapest Price

Does this section make sense? In the electronics recycling world, the answer is absolutely! There are many corners available for recyclers to cut in providing the cheapest price to their customers. I have listed a few prevalent examples below:


Exporting is probably one of the biggest issues/laws in the industry. The EPA does NOT allow the exporting of any hazardous materials containing devices to be exported to underdeveloped countries (i.e. China, Malaysia, India, Most of Africa, etc.). There are recyclers and companies working with or within these countries, and find ways to illegally ship materials into the country. This will allow the recycler to pay higher prices for this material, as the companies in the underdeveloped countries don’t have to worry about high labor costs, environmentally responsible disposal, and/or proper handling of hazardous materials contained within most electronic devices/parts. Money is the number one driver on both sides of the exporting fence!!!


Landfilling is when a company is able to dispose of electronic devices and their materials by dumping them into a landfill. Some states such as Wisconsin and Illinois have implemented “No Landfill Bans for Electronics” throughout the state, requiring all recyclers, residents, etc. to dispose of electronics properly. Other states still allow landfilling of electronic materials but prefer they be recycled properly. Research your state regulations as well as the recycler’s processing standards. If they do landfill some material, please be aware of what this entails. When electronics are landfilled, materials such as lead, ink/toner cartridges, and circuit boards contain materials that leach (leak) hazardous material as it breaks down and decomposes its potential to harm the environment, wildlife, and possibly the people inhabiting the area near the landfill.

D. Affordability in Accommodating Your Financial Requirements

In all business to business relationships there has to be a focus on price and financial analysis. We need to research and compare equally qualified vendors and the pricing that they provide. Although many organizations would have this section at the top of the list in deciding on an electronics recycling vendor, I did not. I believe in getting the best value and service for the best price rather than receiving the best price for the value and service received. I have suggested in the section below a few key points in how to further be able achieve getting the best price and service in acquiring your electronics recycling vendor.

Being Honest:

If you have found a vendor that can seemingly provide you with the best service, in which every other organization’s money but your own can afford. Be honest. Let them know your budget and/or the services you are currently receiving and what to expect in choosing a new vendor. There are many options that can be discussed on both the vendor and customer’s side of the coin that can help lower the costs.

Explain in detail:

Give the potential vendor the opportunity to understand from a 360 degree perspective; your requirements, expectations, past productions and future projections in electronics to be recycled and/or updated within your company. This will allow the recycler to provide to you the most accurate and detailed proposal in providing you their services (i.e. pricing structure: evaluated costs & profits to your company).

Conduct an On-Site Audit:

Our schedules may be hectic, but with the before mentioned “red flag” items to look out for, it is worth your time and your company’s reputation to conduct an on-site audit of your potential recycler’s facility and operations. “Don’t always trust what you hear”, “See it to believe it”, “Don’t judge a book buy it’s cover”….-There is more than one of these sayings for a reason.

In conclusion, I would hope that I have provided you with a better understanding in the selection process of an electronics recycling vendor for your company. I will be the first to admit that the information within this article is not a detailed-all-encompassing manual for how to select the best electronics recycling vendor, but it is a good overview on making it easier for your selection processes.

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