If you saw the ABC’s War on Waste, you might have seen a story about a TV getting a second life, when a member of the public pulled it out of an e-waste drop-off bin and it was tracked to their holiday home in Queensland. According to the host of the show Craig Reucassel, ‘In this case it was a better result!’
Reucassel was referring to the widely accepted idea that reuse is higher on the ‘waste hierarchy’ than recycling – extending the life of products results in a better outcome for the environment and where possible should come before recycling.
Sadly, when it comes to e-waste, this poses a problem. Lucky for this person, there is not much that can be stored on a TV, but had this been a laptop or hard drive there may have been major security implications.
With the amount of personal data that can be stored on these devices, accessing someone’s personal computer could give rise to the sale of personal information, leaking of confidential documents, bank fraud, or identify theft. We speak for all when we say these are not circumstances any organisation would want to be party to.
TechCollect advises people dropping off computers and storage devices to properly wipe data from their hard drives prior to drop off. Sadly confusion surrounding effective data deletion means that people often overlook this important step. If in doubt, please refer to our web site www.techcollect.com.au/delete-your-data where we carefully explain the steps that should be taken.
Aside from raising much needed awareness about e-waste and how to responsibly recycle it, the War on Waste shone a light on the importance of preventing scavenging and theft at e-waste collection locations.
Like Reucassel, some staff may not be aware of these implications and may have the same perception that allowing devices to have a second life results in a better environmental outcome. When training staff, remember:
- In not out – members of the public should only be seen with e-waste on their way in to the drop-off area.
- Supervise – where possible, try to ensure that collection receptacles are in an area that can be seen at all times, and encourage staff to keep an eye on this area or directly assist people to the drop-off point.
- Educate – if a member of the public is trying to help themselves to the material, politely explain the reasons this is not allowed and the above mentioned implications, as they also may not be aware.
Your assistance in helping us prevent theft of data is greatly appreciated. Most collection sites have corflute signs with the above information about data deletion, and we have just sent another batch to those who requested one. If you do not have one of these signs at your site, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get one to you.
Don’t forget you can always direct people to our data deletion resources here: www.techcollect.com.au/delete-your-data