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How to properly process your brand’s IT empties

Agrowing awareness of the corporate world’s impact on the environment, combined with more governmental rules for dealing with surplus computers and peripherals, makes it a good a time for food-service companies to review policies and practices tied to unwanted hardware.

I recently was educated about some of the procedures and issues related to disposal by Andrew Lynn of Regency Technologies of Solon, Ohio. Regency is a handler, reconditioner, reseller and recycler of IT equipment. It counts Darden Restaurants Inc. of Orlando, Fla., among its clients.

Darden hired Regency to handle surplus hardware from many of its approximately 1,320 Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Seasons 52 and Bahama Breeze locations nationwide, including the 651 Red Lobsters involved in the Darden Application for Service & Hospitality, or DASH, upgrade project. DASH resulted in the replacement of restaurant-level point-of-sale systems and other components.

Lynn said Darden’s project yielded, on average, 30 to 50 “assets,” or items for disposal, per unit. “Chain of custody” documentation and practices by Regency and its hauling contractors were an important consideration for Darden, as they are for any corporation wanting to limit its liability in dealing with equipment with potentially problematic disposal requirements.

Representatives of Darden, as is the case for all Regency clients, could log on to a secure website to request equipment pickup by location. The company also relied on Regency’s data-clearing service that wipes storage devices and drives in surplus equipment clean three times, as per U.S. Department of Defense security standards.

Depending on the age and condition of the equipment involved, and the business model of the disposal firm it uses, a restaurant company may be eligible for discounts on such services. Sometimes, companies make money from disposal programs—if the equipment being disposed of is relatively new and the firm struck a resale revenue-sharing deal with the disposal outfit.

More common, Lynn said, an agreement for sharing revenue results in a discounting of normal rates for disposal.

Referring to general pricing guidelines, Lynn said disposal services are now running about $30 per item, including freight charges. That is before offsets, if any, tied to equipment or commodity material resale.

Lynn said all incoming pieces get scanner-readable serial-number tags and audited to determine class of equipment and whether the components work. Pieces deemed unworthy of resale through multiple e-commerce channels, including eBay and Regency’s own website, or the company’s brick-and-mortar store, are relegated to the firm’s in-house recycling center for dismantling down to the commodities material level.

In keeping with some governmental regulations and the disposal procedures of some client companies, Regency records the arrival, audit details and ultimate disposition of every piece processed. Clients using unique log-on information at Regency’s website can view and download the reports and certificates of destruction.

Former Ohio Gov. Bob Taft recognized Regency for its success in exporting goods and creating jobs. Some unscrupulous equipment brokers have been cited in news reports in recent years for dumping unprocessed IT waste from the United States in developing nations, contributing to health and environmental problems. Lynn said Regency and some other firms believe a responsible policy is to sell only working PCs and peripherals and processed commodities to audited companies abroad.

“Responsible” is a term often used when discussing environmental stewardship. Whether they need the level of service provided by Regency Technologies or a competitor, operators need to formulate policies for dealing with surplus IT gear. Disposal doesn’t always equate to disposable, and knowing when that’s true is a big part of being responsible.

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