Problem Worth Solving
E-waste, short for electronic waste, can be any outdated or obsolete appliance or electronic device found in offices or homes. Televisions, microwaves, computers and cell phones are all common examples of e-waste. The sheer uptick in the use of these electronics and the grave environmental impact of this trend will lead the global electronic recycling industry to register a growth of more than 23% over the next three years, valuing the market at over 12 billion dollars in the year 2019. The volume of recyclable electronics in the United States alone is staggering. Each year, America produces nearly 50 million tons of electronic waste and discards 30 million computers. According to the United Nations and partnering organizations, that number will grow to nearly 65 million tons annually by 2017. Current estimates show that over 6.7 billion pounds of e-waste are not recycled in the United States. This problem creates a unique opportunity in an industry that is primed for rapid growth, which is why Secure Core Solutions is positioned for success in tackling three major problems created by e-waste including waste management, regulation compliance, and security.
The average adult in the United States possesses a multitude of personal electronics and home appliances, with companies and organizations owning even more. Technology industry leader, Cisco, predicts that each individual will own 5 internet enabled devices by the year 2017. With the lifespan of these items being 3 years or less, the need to replace them, and consequently dispose of them, is constant and consistent. Because many electronics cannot be discarded into landfills, a never ending need for the dismantling, recycling, and refurbishing of them is created.
Increased regulation and improved global awareness of environmental concerns dictate that much of our electronic waste cannot be disposed of in landfills. Because of issues such as water table contamination, many states, including Indiana, require by law the safe disposal of e-waste as these items contain hazardous elements that can cause real and lasting damage to our natural environment and public health. From lead to mercury, cadmium to arsenic – e-waste contains a number of toxic elements that must be disposed of carefully and professionally to ensure the safety of our ecosystem and its inhabitants.
Regulations in Indiana prohibit the following electronics from being discarded by households, public and charter schools and small businesses:
- Computer monitors
- Computers (including desktops, laptops, and tablets)
- Fax machines
- Peripherals (including keyboards, mice, external hard drives, printers, all-in-one printer/scanner/copiers, projectors, and any other devices that are sold exclusively for external use with a computer and provide input into or output from a computer)
- DVD players (including gaming systems that are able to play DVDs)
- Digital photo frames
- Digital media players
- iPods/MP3 players
- DVR/TiVo devices (including cable boxes and satellite boxes, but not satellite dishes)
- Portable GPS navigation systems
Not only is our consumption of electronics experiencing extreme growth but the way in which we use our technology is evolving as well. Today 80% of computers owned by corporations contain sensitive data and the cost of recovering from the loss of sensitive data can be exorbitant. The average cost to a corporation of a data breach exceeds 7 million dollars. Because of this risk, data security is not only a concern for consumers and corporations, but to all levels of government agencies.
The response to the security risks related to data storage and disposal has resulted in a steep increase in the number of data privacy laws, such as HIPAA and FERPA, and prioritization of consumer privacy protection. Currently the U.S. government has budgeted 14 billion dollars for cyber security, and due to regulatory compliance is forced to dispose of all technical devices every 2-3 years. These mandates have made Electronic Recycling a recession proof industry. Not only can outdated or inactive files pose security risk but improper handling can lead to breaking the law. Properly disposing of this information and receiving destruction documentation protects the company from possible lawsuits or judicial actions. It is estimated that corporate espionage costs US businesses over 7 billion in losses every year.