Prepare discarded hardware

The demand for used hardware has increased in recent years

December 15, 2016 | IT director

The demand for used hardware has increased in recent years. Michael Bleicher, Managing Director of BB-Net Media GmbH, reports on what is important for professional processing and when it is recycled.

IT-DIRECTOR: Mr. Bleicher, the cycles in which companies exchange electronic devices have become ever shorter in recent years, what happens to this discarded hardware in corporations?

M. Bleicher: The most recent experience shows that the running times of devices tend to lengthen rather than shorten. Last year, this was mainly due to the introduction of Windows 10 and the very short notice announced end of the support period for Windows 7. Since many companies only switched from XP to Windows 7 the year before, they have to invest in new infrastructures for Windows 10 postponed accordingly.

Apart from that, however, we generally assume longer usage periods in the future. The technology has reached a performance level at which older devices are completely sufficient for normal everyday office life. The exception here are of course demanding applications such as graphics processing, CAD programs or software in finance, but this proportion is rather manageable for the total number of computers in companies.

Discarded hardware from corporations and large companies is the basis of our business. These systems are often leased and then returned to the lessor or the system house in charge. From there they are then sold to processors or recycling companies. In the last few years we have also noticed that more and more companies are approaching us directly, as processing is more in the general awareness.

IT-DIRECTOR: What types of recycling are there in principle?
M. Bleicher:
We differentiate between three stages of recycling, if you can call it that. The first stage is the mentioned processing. The KrWG calls it the greatest good when goods come back onto the secondary market and are used again. Ideally, the hardware that reaches us is functional or can be repaired with simple means. In addition, there is an optical preparation, a new operating system and we have a high-quality sales item.

If the device can no longer be saved as a whole, we try to use the components that are still working in other systems and thus reuse some of them. That is the second stage. Everything that no longer works or is unsuitable for processing is then professionally dismantled and fractioned at level 3.

IT DIRECTOR: What happens to the recycled materials?
M. Bleicher:
We then sell the fractionated components to large raw material recyclers. These then have the appropriate procedures to recover the individual metals and raw materials.

IT DIRECTOR: How high is the proportion of reusable materials, what is actually waste?
M. Bleicher:
The proportion of precious metals and special raw materials for which recovery is required is around 10 percent. The remaining 90 percent are mostly the housings, which are made up of sheet metal parts and plastic. This ends up in the scrap metal or plastic waste.

IT DIRECTOR: In the spring you could read that Apple had recovered around a ton of gold from decommissioned devices. What financial values ​​do large German companies talk about in connection with recycling?
M. Bleicher:
Unfortunately, we cannot make any statements about this because we do not have any data on the amount of IT in German companies.

IT DIRECTOR: What security services does a recycling service provider have to provide - for example with regard to reliable data deletion?
M. Bleicher:
We are not aware that a recycling service provider is required to provide security. Here, the seller's wish for the security of the data is more decisive - and in our opinion it makes perfect sense. The processor or recycler should have a complete data protection concept and corresponding certifications for data destruction. Whether recovery is then made impossible with professional erasure tools, or whether the data carriers are destroyed automatically, then depends on the explosiveness of the data and, of course, the further processing of the devices. Basically, we recommend everyone to personally take a look at the company they entrust their hardware with.

IT-DIRECTOR: In which industries and company areas are refurbished devices used in large German companies?
M. Bleicher:
For us, large companies are more a source of used hardware than buyers of refurbished systems. Due to the large number of items, you are able to buy directly from the manufacturers at good conditions.

If the IT is decommissioned there, it wanders through the processing and then ends up in industrial medium-sized companies and SMEs, where the budget plays a larger role when buying hardware.

IT-DIRECTOR: How popular is “IT remarketing”? Which devices are suitable for this?
M. Bleicher:
The demand for reprocessed hardware has been increasing steadily in recent years. More and more entrepreneurs but also private users are recognizing the difference between simple second-hand goods and a professionally refurbished device. The latter is then an inexpensive alternative to a new acquisition without having to forego software or warranty. The prerequisite is of course the quality of the notebook or computer. That is why the business lines of the major manufacturers are particularly interesting for processing. These are designed from the outset for a longer service life and more intensive use, both in terms of the materials used and the quality of workmanship.

IT DIRECTOR: Refurbished devices don't necessarily have to be sold, are donations an alternative?
M. Bleicher:
From the point of view of a company's CSR, donating discarded hardware naturally makes sense. We fully support the idea of ​​donating working devices to needy places before they are scrapped. However, one should not act too hastily here, because there are some pitfalls to be aware of. On the one hand, the security of your own data should also be mentioned here. Before passing on data carriers, professional data destruction should be carried out. Another point is the licensing of software such as operating systems. The blessing of a donated computer can quickly become a curse for a nonprofit organization when allegations of illegal piracy arise. We advise all companies who want to donate their hardware to work with a professional processor who can professionally take care of these issues.

IT-DIRECTOR: To what extent are companies affected by "ElektroG" from 2015, what has changed for manufacturers?
M. Bleicher:
The legal take-back obligation applies to our products. Since we as a pure B2B company have no contact with end customers, little has changed for us.

IT DIRECTOR: How present is the topic of "resource efficiency"? What can companies improve?
M. Bleicher:
From our point of view, the most important point for companies is working with a processor. If you throw old hardware in the scrap, it will be treated accordingly and reuse is unlikely. Here you should just be aware that there are other options. In fact, this awareness has improved a lot in recent years, even among smaller companies that otherwise thought they were too small to contribute a part.