The perils of unsafe computer destruction

The BBC sent Reggie Yates to Ghana in 2017. His job? To film life on a Ghanaian electronic waste dump. He discovered a landscape of old and broken computers, delivered from Western countries. Reggie talks to locals, who finger through sharp components without protective clothing. They search for fragments of copper wire, precious metals, and plastic chips. Anything to pay the bills. But the work is slowly killing them. Computer components contain lethal metals, which need trained experts to recycle them.

Worryingly, unsafe computer destruction is a big problem. The United Nations estimates that companies illegally dump up to 90% of the world’s electronic waste.

A toxic journey

If you order disposal through an unethical company, they will transport the computers to a country with weak environmental laws. This country will usually suffer from high unemployment and a poor economy. They will dump the computers in a landfill, where locals will spot an opportunity to rip them apart and sell the components.

They will batter through any casing and expose themselves to hazardous material. Cadmium will weaken their bones, arsenic will increase their cancer risk, and lead will seep into their brain. Children will join their parents to earn extra money for the family. They will face greater risk because they are small and growing.

The soil will absorb the dangerous metals, which could enter the water supply. They may harm local plants and affect food. After locals wring the useful parts from your computers, they will chuck what they cannot use. Stripped and burnt circuit boards will often find their way into fields and rivers.

And your data? Criminals could access it at any point along the chain.

Focus on re-use rather destruction

If you need to dispose of your computers, you have a safe and ethical choice. At AssetCare, we will professionally wipe your data and re-use your hardware.

We deploy the CESG approved Blancco software, used by Governments and blue-chip corporations, to remove all data from hard drives. Our security-vetted colleagues will also magnetically erase any hidden data. We guarantee the removal of sensitive data and our processes exceed GDPR standards.

If you ask us to physically destroy your hard drives, we will do so in our secure data sanitisation building. We will shred your hard drive and track each step of its disposal. At the end, you will receive a certificate of hard drive destruction.

After we have wiped your data, we will recycle the remaining hardware for re-use or remove toxic materials and precious metals from unusable items.