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Hard Drive Recycling

Hard drives store information on a number of common electronics, and are mostly associated with desktop computers and laptops. Whether you have an old magnetic-style hard drive or one of the newer Solid State Drives (SSD), or even an external or USB hard drive, you have something recyclable on your hands.

Can I Recycle My Old Hard Drive?

When they’re at the end of their lifecycle or you just no longer need them, you can recycle your hard drives safely at Cohen. All hard drives are recyclable, whether they’re internal or external. You can separate the hard drive from the device (in some cases) or bring in the entire device for recycling.

Is it Illegal to Throw Away My Hard Drive?

In most states, the law prohibits throwing away electronics (or e-waste) with other household garbage, and that includes hard drives.

Most hard drives contain toxins like mercury and lead that could have adverse effects on the environment if leaked into the soil. Electronics like hard drives also take up valuable space and practically never decompose. With electronic waste being the fastest growing global waste stream, landfill managers do not need or want this kind of waste taking up valuable space. 

Besides: it may not be illegal to throw out spare change, but it’s still not a great idea – because it’s worth something!

How Do I Know That My Information is Safe when I Recycle a Hard Drive?

Choose a certified electronics recycler, and be wary of organizations that offer to take your electronics for free. Certifications are rigorous standards, issued by a third party, that hold the recycler accountable for their practices. That includes documented data destruction policies and other security measures to ensure that not a byte is unaccounted for in the end. 

Data Destruction is the most efficient way to protect against liability.

$83 billion: That’s the estimated annual cost of data security around the globe in an increasingly digital world. And while viruses, scammers, hackers, and leaks typically get the most attention, many organizations tend to overlook the risks posed by the equipment they no longer use.

For organizations with a bulk quantity of devices, on-site hard drive destruction is a convenient, efficient, and secure solution. Cohen’s electronics division, Cobalt, provides both on-site shredding to destroy hard drives, and full-service IT asset disposition for all kinds of hardware. Learn more at TrustCobalt.com.

>> More: The Three Ways to Securely Destroy Data

Can My Whole Computer be Recycled?

Yes, entire computers are recyclable. That includes laptops and desktop computers, as well as handheld devices like tablets. You can take them apart and sell them piece by piece, or bring in the entire unit. 

Can I Recycle Any Device that Stores Data?

Yes. Electronics contain valuable metal or plastic that can be properly recycled at most established entities.

However, the dismantling process varies, as each piece model and brand of electronic equipment is constructed differently. While you will typically be paid for the valuable material in the hard drives and other electronics, you might be required to pay a small fee in some cases. Typically this fee is just a few cents per pound

Why do Certifications Matter when Choosing an Electronics Recycler?

A certified electronic recycler is bound by the standards of the certification to guarantee certain things, like secure data destruction and environmental responsibility. These certifications are time-consuming and costly to achieve, so certified recyclers are invested in upholding those standards. It’s not illegal to run an electronics recycling business without certification, but it could signal that some corners are being cut.

We are dual certified by the recycling industry’s leading standards for quality, environmental health and safety: R2 and RIOS. 

Can I Shred or Destroy my Hard Drive?

You could try many ways to destroy your own hard drive – magnets, hammers, running over it with a truck – but it would be impossible for you to be sure that the data is unrecoverable if you don’t have a verification process afterward. Older magnet-style hard drives could be somewhat effectively compromised through these do-it-yourself means, but modern solid-state drives (SSDs) don’t store data the same way and wouldn’t be affected.

Recycling your hard drive with a certified recycler gives you peace of mind that your data truly will be rendered unrecoverable. So unless you have a state of the art mobile hard drive shredder like we do, you’re not doing everything you can to mitigate the risks to your data by taking out your frustration on it.