Agencies can sell used electronics after data is erased
Federal agencies can turn to certified electronics recyclers for proper disposal of IT assets, from erasing data from devices to recycling parts that cannot be reused. If the equipment is still usable, recyclers are authorized by regulation to sell the devices. Agencies can use the profits made to purchase new IT equipment from their prime contractor.
These are exactly the services offered by AnythingIT. Twenty years ago, the North Bergen, NJ-based IT asset management services company was the first company to win a government contract from the General Services Administration to take advantage of Federal Management Regulation 102-39, which allows agencies to sell goods, such as used computer hardware, and use the money earned for new technology, says David Bernstein, CEO and Founder of AnythingIT.
“Our certified data security services provide agencies with a safe process to retire their equipment, and it can increase their IT budgets,” Bernstein says. “We take care of certified data erasure and proper environmental procedures to ensure nothing ends up in a landfill.”
AnythingIT has partnered with technology solution provider CDW•G to offer the resale service. First, AnythingIT provides onsite packing and picking from any agency location. They inspect and evaluate equipment to give agencies an estimate of potential revenue. Then they inventory the equipment, capture asset information like serial numbers, and remove tags that identify previous owners.
The company then tests the equipment, checks the BIOS for configuration information, and wipes the data using Department of Defense standards. Used electronics that can still be used are sold in Latin America and Europe.
Used electronics that aren’t sold are sent to recycling vendors who break down the equipment into raw materials so they can be reused again, Bernstein says.
LOOK: Learn how the Census Bureau relied on CDW•G to dispose of their devices after the 2020 Census.
How to recycle a supercomputer
ORNL’s Titan supercomputer, once the fastest computing system in the world, was a workhorse that fueled the research of scientists around the world for seven years.
But in 2019, the national lab retired the system to make way for the new Frontier supercomputer, which will be 50 times faster than Titan and become the nation’s first exascale supercomputer.
Removing Titan from the 9,000 square foot data center in Oak Ridge, Tennessee took about six weeks. Cray handled the recycling, but Abston oversaw the entire process to ensure the removal met federal requirements, including Environmental Protection Agency standards.
“My office was 60 feet away, so I watched the work, checked on the progress, and answered questions,” he recalls. “Sometimes I would help with tools or help push something out of the way. I also made sure the trucks came in and out and were loaded properly. »
First, Cray hired an outside contractor to dispose of 10,000 gallons of refrigerant used to cool Titan. This supplier placed the coolant in storage cylinders and took them offsite to clean the coolant so it could be reused, Abston says.
Next, a team of Cray engineers disconnected the piping and heat exchangers above the cabinets. Then they loaded 430,000 pounds of supercomputer components onto 140 pallets and placed them on 15 trucks, according to ORNL. Even that took some strategy.
“They got the cabinets out, but they had to balance the weight to put on each truck so they didn’t exceed the capacity of each truck,” Abston says.
The trucks transported the disassembled machine to a third-party recycler in Dallas. The Recycling Team dismantled Titan’s cabinets and internal parts by hand. Then they sorted the materials; recycled plastic; and sent the steel, aluminum, copper and sheet metal to a metal reprocessor, which makes the material reusable so it can be made into new products.
The recycling company, certified by the international standard Responsible Recycling (R2), also used special machines to shred more complex components, such as processors and circuit boards. This isolated the precious metals, which the recycler sold to refineries for reuse.
READ MORE: Asset disposal services are often accompanied by Device as a Service solutions.
Electronic disposal plans can be integrated from the start
The national laboratory itself has small computer equipment, including small server systems and hard disks. In fact, the lab employees got rid of Titan’s storage system on their own.
Over a period of nine months, when Abston’s team members had time, they used a special on-site shredder to shred all 23,000 hard drives. The lab then unloaded the remaining precious
metals to a metal recycler.
When ORNL purchases new IT equipment, its disposal is always part of the planning, says Abston. In fact, when ORNL purchased the new $600 million Frontier supercomputer, the lab demanded that the manufacturer recycle the machine at the end of its life.
“Recycling is not always easy. The easiest way is to send the equipment to the landfill, but we want to do it right, protect our environment and promote the best interests of taxpayers,” he says. “It takes effort, looking for those contracts and getting the right people to come and recycle the equipment.”