Multiple mobile phone batteries stacked on top of each other

When a business upgrades its computers, the retailer will usually offer a handy service of collecting and disposing of old and outdated machines. But how secure is this practice, and are they being recycled correctly?

Taking advantage of this offer might be speedy and simple, especially for those running busy organisations. But there’s limitations and instances where retailers aren’t equipped to do things properly. More than 50 million tons of e-waste is generated globally every single year. Businesses need to make a conscious effort to make sure old tech is being disposed of properly. Also, think about all that data collected over the lifespan of the computer, what happens to it?

A Lack of transparency

Retailer recycling programmes came under fire last year for their lack of transparency. The Financial Times went as far as fitting trackers to some of their e-waste (data cleared) which they’d given to six well known retailers, who claim to ‘recycle’ old machines. While many of them did end up eventually getting recycled, two were re-sold to an eBay seller, and another was stolen from the recycling supply chain TWICE.

They aren’t computer recycling companies

These retailers are not recycling companies and while some do partner with external organisations, they’ll often not know where items go. While a collect and dispose service may seem convenient when products come to the end of their serviceable lifespan, it’s not recommended for businesses. Especially when this could be compromising data security and causing potential environmental harm.

Many don’t clear and destroy data

Ideally, all data should be destroyed before sending a computer to be recycled, especially when using a retailer. But it’s easy for this to be overlooked, studies have shown that 42% of discarded hard drives still contain sensitive information. For a company, this can lead to serious repercussions and security breaches, causing potential legal implications. Many retailers that claim to ‘recycle’ products don’t take proper measures to clear data from devices, in turn potentially ending up in the wrong hands.

The environmental impact

Retailer collection schemes might not always be the most environmentally friendly, despite what they may promise. They often contribute to increased carbon emissions, due to items being shipped from place to place, before their final location. Also, the process of recycling electronics requires a complex set of procedures. If not followed properly, it can lead to toxic chemicals in the environment which can be harmful to wildlife and human health.

Impact on sustainable reputation

When a business is known for its sustainability efforts, the last thing it wants is for something so trivial to harm its reputation. The limited capabilities of retail recycling has the potential to do just that. By not knowing 100% what’s happening to the products you give them, you could potentially be harming your business name and be accused of greenwashing. Not to mention a loss of trust of your clients or customers.


Although retailer recycling schemes might seem convenient, they aren’t the best option for businesses. There’s often limitations and you could be risking the confidentiality and security of the business’s data. There’s no way of knowing where your items are going to end up and if they are being ‘recycled’ at all. They could still end up in a landfill and you’d be none the wiser. Imagine if someone spots a business logo on a dumped piece of equipment. It could have a detrimental effect on business reputation, especially if they’re known for sustainable practices.

At Concept Management we’re specialists in data protection and the proper disposal of electronics. We help corporate companies adhere to new environmental legislation and rules and couple this up with secure data and equipment destruction. We also promote the reusing of recycled equipment where possible.

If you’re thinking of upgrading your equipment soon, don’t rely on the place you order your new tech from, get in touch with us