Most of us have them sitting somewhere. They are languishing in the basement, or the attic, in a closet, a storage unit or a kitchen drawer; old, replaced electronics. But what about all the secure information that is still stored on these devices?
These days, our phones, laptops and PCs store all kinds of data, including bank accounts, credit card information, social security numbers and other private data. We upgrade our phones, computers and other devices every few years, and no longer need the old hardware in our lives. But again what should we do about all the secure information that is still stored on these devices?
The real answer is there’s no way to permanently erase confidential information on your own. Even formatted drives can be restored or recovered, so the only way to ensure protection of your sensitive information is to destroy the information. As a result, most electronics recyclers offer a Certificate of Destruction when accepting computer products, to give you peace of mind.
Here are a few tips for how to securelyrecycle your electronics:
Convince your company or school to sponsor an electronics recycling event partnered with an e-Stewards or R2/RIOSrecycler, allowing students, families and employees to bring in products. That way, your school or company is underwriting the costs to have your information destroyed securely.
If that isn’t an option, remove the hard drive from your computer/laptop or SIM card from your cell phone beforerecycling these products. A recycler will still accept and recycle the rest of these products, and you can either retain the memory device or destroy it.
Groups like Keep Atlanta Beautiful and Live Thrive Atlanta have periodic hard to recycle waste collections that include electronics. Check out their web sites for more information. www.keepatlantabeautiful.org & http://livethrive.org
Boyd Leake is a Buckhead native and the founder and owner of Community Environmental. Since 1995 he has been an environmental and sustainability consultant with an emphasis on recycling, composting and “green” solid waste management.