A third of big firms ‘irresponsible’ on IT disposal

One third of the UK's largest businesses are irresponsibly disposing of redundant computers containing e-waste, with many sent to landfill, substandard treatment facilities, or illegally exported.

That is the conclusion of research into IT disposal practices by market researchers Vanson Bourne, which found that in the UK alone 38% of large businesses do not always data wipe PCs before disposal – despite the fact that 68% of them cited data security as a primary concern.

This follows on from a previous study into best practice in IT disposal which revealed that just 14% of companies surveyed follow this guidance.

As part of the research, a survey of 100 senior IT decision-makers was conducted to ascertain IT disposal practices.

The results revealed that 57% of respondents said they do not account for decommissioned PCs, while only 61% said they currently data wipe old computers before disposal.

It also found that 75% of EU generated e-waste – equivalent to eight million tonnes a year – is being sent to landfill is unaccounted for, despite this being illegal.

ComputerAid International, which released the research, warned that poor e-waste disposal practices has the potential to cause significant damage if the redundant PCs sensitive data entered the illegal e-waste stream.

In addition, by failing to wipe data waste, companies could fail to comply with the Data Protection Act, which ComputerAid warns could leave customers open to fraud and put their intellectual property at risk.

Commenting on the findings, ComputerAid director of communications, Anja ffrench, said: “By not disposing of their IT properly, companies risk huge financial, legal and reputational costs and can cause severe damage to people and the environment.

“Improving IT decommissioning procedures is essential. Every IT manager must ensure that all their company’s unwanted equipment is data wiped to CESG approved standards and that they receive fully documented waste streams from their IT disposal service providers.”

Carys Matthews

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie