When Is Free Really Free?

Every day, we are bombarded with the promise of ‘free’. The buy-one-get-one-free on your new windows, the local supermarkets battling it out for 2-4-1 cases of beer. Everyone wants your business and (let’s not mess about here) your money.

The majority of businesses are watching the bottom line, any overhead has to be accounted for and waste electrical recycling or disposal is no different from anything else. So it begs the question: is there such a thing as a free lunch?

The reality is that, when a company offers ‘free electrical recycling’, there may well be some small print that goes along with it. Whilst budget is always king, it’s also a question of getting the optimum value – let’s look at what questions you should be asking to make sure you don’t get caught out:

Where do they collect from?

It’s always worth checking whether a free collection is limited in some way by area. Ask whether the collection is conditional upon postcode, distance from their depot, etc.

Does the company run their own transportation or is this sub-contracted to a transport company that has no experience in handling this type of waste. Will you receive the correct paperwork to show what waste you produced and where it will end up? As a business you have a legal duty of care to ensure your waste is disposed of correctly.

Are all items free to collect?

There are numerous IT disposal companies out there. Some specialise in just computer equipment, others take all types of electrical equipment. You may find once word gets out of a disposal, the office store room contains different types of equipment. It makes sense to bundle all manner of e-waste for recycling at the same time. 

If the items you are recycling are in working order and less than three years old, they may well be eligible for free collection – but if you have older equipment, it’s likely that there will be a charge. Some companies offer a free collection but when they arrive at your premises, they ‘cherry pick’ what they want and leave the rest behind! Others will provide an “on the day” price to take items at the time of collection.

It’s best to gather a list or even a picture of the equipment you have any clarify what is going to be collected up front, then there is no confusion at the time of collection.

If there is a cost, is the price fixed in advance?

If there are costs involved, make sure you agree a price in advance. Providing you are accurate about the items you have for recycling, there should be no reason for a price to increase once the items have been removed from your premises. 

Check any emails or correspondence to ensure surcharges are well documented and bare in mind the person collecting the waste may not be the decision maker when it comes to the cost of the job. Double check with the company to avoid any confusion. 

What does the price include?

If you have computers, servers or hard drives to dispose of, it is really important to check exactly what is included in the recycling service. For example, it’s likely that you’ll need some sort of data destruction – don’t leave your information accessible!

What documentation do you receive after a collection. How do you know what you disposed of and more importantly what happened to your business data?

Any reputable recycling company that specialises in electrical waste will be able to provide duty of care documentation, data destruction certificates and may even asset serial numbers. Again triple check up front what is included within your service you are booking. 

What happens to my items?

Make sure you know what a company is doing with your recycled items. For example, at Pure Planet Recycling we offer the complete duty of care paperwork for all our clients, so they have complete trace-ability of their waste, as well as certificates of secure destruction for all electronic data.

Do they reuse electrical equipment, is this tested and are they licensed to do so? How do they destroy hard drives, media tapes etc. that may be contained within your collection?

When will my items will be collected?

Sometimes, when a collection is ‘free’, it’s on the basis that the recycling company can turn up when it suits them, not you, and often without notice. 

I’m sure you can understand that running vehicles, staff and a licensed premises has high overheads. These are the types of costs that may be reduced in order to offer an unfair advantage in the industry. 

The moral of this story is that, while there may well be such a thing as a free lunch, you are probably going to be charged extra for drinks, dessert and a good table! At Pure Planet Recycling, we believe in a transparent service. No hidden costs, no nasty surprises. We are an award-winning Authorised Treatment Facility (ATF), offering a fully traceable waste management service. We don’t just offer computer recycling either. Our services also include fridge recycling, fluorescent light tube recycling – in fact, anything electrical or electronic. We are happy to visit you first, so you can talk with our expert team to establish exactly what your needs are and how we might help.

Here’s the bottom line when considering ‘free recycling’: if something seems too good to be true, it probably is!