Why Big Tech shreds millions of storage devices it could reuse

Enlarge / Tech decommissioning businesses have been transformed from what some describe as a collection of “man with a van” outfits into a regulated industry. (credit: Lorne Campbell, Guzelian, and SWEEEP Kuusakoski)

Mick Payne remembers the moment the madness of the way we dispose of our data was brought home to him.

The chief operating officer of Techbuyer, an IT asset disposal company in Harrogate, was standing in a large windowless room of a data center in London surrounded by thousands of used hard drives owned by a credit card company. Knowing he could wipe the drives and sell them on, he offered a six-figure sum for all the devices.

The answer was no. Instead, a lorry would be driven up to the site, and the data-storing devices would be dropped inside by authorized security personnel. Then industrial machines would shred them into tiny fragments.

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