Logistics is the most overlooked piece of the puzzle when it comes to ITAD and electronics recycling. This should not be as it can actually become the highest risk portion of the disposition process.
By Alex Cummings

Transportation is considered the highest risk portion of the IT Asset Disposition (ITAD) process. Consider that you are loading high value IT assets that may contain highly sensitive data into a trailer to be transported sometimes hundreds of miles across a country. These assets can even be loaded and unloaded multiple times at various transportation hubs resulting in multiple touches of the box or pallet. What does this mean for every single business around the world? Even data-bearing devices such as hard drives with little commodity value can contain residual data. You need highly trained and vetted logistics experts specializing in the ITAD industry for reliable, safe, and secure transportation to prevent your assets from falling into the wrong hands and possible data breaches of your clients and company information.

Whether shipping IT assets a mile or around the globe, secure logistics should be at the forefront of your ITAD & electronics recycling program.
Images courtesy of SMR Worldwide.

Logistics Security
When transporting valuable assets or highly sensitive material, logistics security should be at the forefront. ITAD providers may use their own fleet for transportation, which means their drivers are most likely company employees. If they are non-CDL drivers, inquire about drug testing, background screening including motor vehicle records and safety reports on their drivers. It is highly recommended that third-party administrators (TPA) are used that specialize in drug testing and background screening. CDL drivers fall under the DOT federal guidelines and must pass yearly physicals and random drug tests in order to keep their license.

If the ITAD provider is using contracted employees (staff augmentation or temps), inquire about their drug testing and background screening procedures. As for subcontracted companies, does the ITAD provider request that drug testing and background screens are performed on their employees? Subcontracted companies should be held to the same strict standards that the ITAD provider holds themselves too.

If hauling highly secure material, team drivers can be used. This means that the vehicle is constantly on the move and when it does stop for fuel or food, one driver must always stay with the vehicle. Tamper-proof barcoded seals can be placed on the back doors of the trailer. If secure containers are located inside the trailer, these containers can also have the same tamper-proof barcoded seals placed on them for an extra level of protection. The only way a lock seal can be broken is if the truck/trailer is pulled over by law enforcement and searched. If this happens, the ITAD provider should request documentation from those law enforcement officials on the scene as evidence of why the lock seal was broken. This evidence should be immediately passed along to the company from the ITAD provider.

Laptops that are being remarketed/resold back into the economy after data wiping and light refurbishment.

Transportation vehicles can include multiple GPS units on both the vehicle and individual boxes or pallets inside the trailer. Multiple programs allow for real-time reporting of GPS units so you can keep track of your assets along the entire route from door to door.

Facility Security
Not to be overlooked, facility security is also essential to ensure your IT assets and data do not fall into the wrong hands. Find an ITAD provider with secure perimeter fencing, 24/7 security camera coverage over the entire processing facility, security guard at all employee entry/exit points and secured cage-within-a-cage for high-security assets.

Another consideration is do you have adequate docks or ramps at your facility and the proper equipment to move pallets? If you do not, this should be relayed to the ITAD provider so they can determine which additional equipment is necessary in order to safely and efficiently remove IT assets from the site. If you do not have a loading dock, do you have a loading ramp? If neither are present, a forklift may have to be rented to get the pallets into the trailer or a truck with an adequate lift gate. These steps will make sure that assets are not damaged during loading which could drastically decrease their resale value.

When transporting certain types of batteries that are disconnected from their parent asset, the terminals should be taped over with electrical tape and, at a very minimum, individually placed into a plastic Ziplock bag. This keeps the batteries terminals from touching ends and possibly igniting a fire. A fire from a cell phone battery or laptop battery containing cobalt burns extremely hot and is incredibly difficult to extinguish. The plastic Ziplock bags add an additional layer of protection from batteries touching along with creating an enclosure in case the battery leaks, it will be concealed and contained inside the bag. Batteries contain potassium hydroxide which causes skin irritation, possibly serious damage to your eyes, and irritation to your lungs if inhaled. Lithium-Ion batteries can also be dangerous and cause skin irritation and burns on the skin. Whenever handling batteries, always remember to immediately wash your hands and do not touch your eyes or mouth.

Questions to Ask Your ITAD Provider

• Are the dock areas of your facilities-controlled access including driver accessibility to enter the facility?

• If your ITAD provider is using a third-party logistics company, do they hold the logistics company to the same data protection standards?

• How did the ITAD provider vet the logistics company and why did they choose them?

• Does the ITAD provider require proof of background checks by companies that are subcontracted?

• Is the load going straight from your company’s place of business to the ITAD facility or will it be off-loaded for a trailer switch at a hub?

Mixed CPU’s, can be sorted for resale or sent to refinery for smelting.

Outbound Shipments
Outbound shipments of assets for recycling, remarketing or redeployment cannot be overlooked. All data-bearing devices should have been wiped, degaussed or shredded before leaving the ITAD processing facility. If they are not, this could lead to a data breach. Some ITAD providers will not ship out assets that contain data-bearing devices including hard drives for this very reason.

With regards to the ownership transfer, in the Statement of Work (SOW), where and when the ownership transfers from the company to the ITAD provider should be established. If the ITAD provider takes ownership of the assets at your docks, then the ITAD provider is responsible for anything that happens to the assets during transport. If ownership transfer occurs when the assets reach the ITAD processing facility, your company is responsible for the assets during transport. What does all that mean? If your company loads the assets into the trailer and are responsible for them during transport and a server falls over or a pallet of cell phones busts open and cracks the screens, your company is responsible for that lost revenue. If the ITAD provider loads the trailer and takes ownership of the assets at your company’s dock, then they are responsible for any lost revenue that occurs due to damage during transport.

It is highly recommended that your company takes their own pictures of the assets being transported for your own records along with an inventory list. The pictures and inventory should be sent to the ITAD provider for their records as well. Pre-generated barcodes at the asset/pallet level can be used to shorten the check-in process at the ITAD facility and creates a level of insurance as the assets/pallets are labeled with a barcode.

MacBook’s received and ready for teardown into commodity material for resale.

Dealing with High Risk Assets
Often, logistics is the most overlooked piece of the puzzle when it comes to ITAD and electronics recycling. This should not be as logistics can actually become the highest risk portion of the disposition process. As a company, you are trusting that data-bearing assets are being securely transported sometimes hundreds if not thousands of miles across multiple countries at times with multiple hands touching those assets during transportation. Without the proper ITAD policy and logistics experts on the job, your assets could end up in the hands of criminals who can extract your clients and company information from those assets and sell that data around the world. Simply put, much more goes into logistics solutions than packing assets into a box or gaylord and loading them onto a trailer for transportation. Using vetted logistics experts, pre-printed barcodes, team drivers, secure seals on trailer doors, and world-class facility security will ensure your data does not fall into the wrong hands. If it does, your company could be in for massive fines and lawsuits for data breaches. | WA

Alex Cummings creates, implements and executes the global marketing and public relations strategy for SMR Worldwide (formerly Smart Metals Recycling) headquarted in Statesville, NC with four additional locations in the U.S. Alex executes SMR’s mission on their website, social media, market research, press releases, e-mail campaigns, partnerships, blogs, sales presentations, along with graphic design and content management. He spent the last 15 years in various client services and marketing roles with companies, such as World Racing Group, World of Outlaws, Roush Yates Engines and SRI Performance before finding his purpose in the ITAD and Electronics Recycling Industry.

SMR Worldwide’s mission is “Transforming yesterday’s technology into the supply chain of tomorrow” as they become the world’s most disruptive vision for last-mile IT asset management. SMR partners with the world’s leading manufacturers, highest volume IT distributors and most privacy-obsessed enterprises. Their focus is to deliver the best turnkey ITAD programs from end-to-end while protecting our client’s brand and reputation while minimizing environmental impacts. In the summer of 2019, SMR was placed on the Inc. 5000 list at #1563 in just its 5th year of operation. They are creating new solutions all the time, adding not only new service locations but new service capabilities. For more information, call (704) 873-8878, e-mail at info@smr-worldwide.com or visit www.smr-worldwide.com.