Global Recycling in the Digital Age

June 1, 2012
Matthew C. Sullivan
Association of Corporate Counsel's "Green-house Counsel"

At one point or another, you have almost certainly heard of an upcoming technology upgrade and wondered, "didn't we just upgrade our computers (or phones or printers) a couple of years ago?" With the ever-increasing use of electronics and pace of innovation in electronic devices, it is really no wonder that a whole industry has arisen to manage electronic equipment which is obsolete, no longer needed, or simply ready for discard. In fact, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ("USEPA") estimates that more than 2 million tons of electronic waste ("eWaste"), including TVs, cellphones, computers and related equipment, was discarded in 2009 alone. But much of this equipment may have sensitive information about your business and/or customers, it likely contains potentially harmful substances, and it can create significant liability for your company if managed improperly. Further, the likelihood that your company’s eWaste could be exported adds a whole other layer of issues. In light of the sensitive information it contains, the legal implications of mismanagement, and other issues, deciding what to do with your company’s eWaste is a decision that should be made carefully.

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