Did you know that waste electronic equipment is the fastest growing category of waste in the US? In 2008, the EPA estimated 3.16 million pounds of electronic waste was designated for disposal with approximately 18% of this material recycled. Much of the electronic waste stream contains heavy metals, such as lead, mercury, cadmium and other hazardous constituents. One component of Columbia University’s continued commitment to environmental protection is focused on computer recycling. For the past decade, Columbia University has been recycling computers and other electronics when they become obsolete.
Waste computers and electronics can often find another “life” through repurposing efforts, whereby this equipment is donated as-is, or is refurbished and donated, providing useful technology to those who otherwise would not have such access. It is important to be aware that before a computer is designated for recycling or repurposing, it is the responsibility of the end user to ensure that sensitive data are cleansed from the hard drive. Deleting files or simply reformatting the hard drive will not stop someone intent on recovering private, personal or confidential data from your computer. CUIT’s “Data Sanitization/Disposal of Electronic Equipment Policy” outlines the procedure for cleansing electronic equipment of sensitive data. CUIT also provides the Columbia community with DBAN http://www.columbia.edu/acis/security/download/, an easy to use program that erases all data from a hard drive. Visit http://www.ehs.columbia.edu/Recycling.html for more information on Columbia’s recycling programs.
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