Inside an IT asset disposal facility

A look at the machines and steps taken inside the Las Vegas-based facility of U.S. Micro, an IT asset disposition company, as they disassemble, destroy and then recycle IT assets securely.

Electronic remnants on conveyor belt
Credit: U.S. Micro
Heading to secure retirement

Approximately eight pounds of IT equipment per U.S. citizen is retired annually, according to officials with U. S. Micro. Here, retired electronics make their way through their process of data sanitization, destruction and recycling.

IT assets on conveyor belt
Credit: U.S. Micro
Environmental concerns

U.S. Micro refurbishes and sells approximately 90 percent of all IT equipment handled at the facility. The other 10 percent is recycled according to EPA standards.

CRT monitor ready to be disassembled
Credit: U.S. Micro
Ready for destruction

A shot of a Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) monitor ready to be disassembled.

Machines pulverized
Credit: U.S. Micro
Before and after

Shown here are two contrasting shots which show what printers are look like before and after pulverization.

Electrostatic separator
Credit: U.S. Micro
Electrostatic separator

This machine separates lighter materials, such as plastics and circuit boards, from more valuable, non-ferrous metals. U.S Micro sells plastics, such as circuit boards, into the commodities market. Metals are reclaimed and sold to the precious metals market.

Disassembly station
Credit: U.S. Micro
Disassembly station

Cathode ray tubes (CRT), personal computers (PC) and servers are manually disassembled at each station. Conveyor routes disassembled pieces to the end of the line where they are sorted by commodity type.

 

CRT preprocessor
Credit: U.S. Micro
CRT preprocessor

The preprocessor cleans and readies CRTs for processing, including cutting the aluminum band and removing the CRT gun (the source of electrons or electron emitter inside the tube). It also scrubs the outside of CRT to prepare for glass separation.

CRT auto cutter
Credit: U.S. Micro
CRT auto cutter

On the far right of the machine is where the CRT is cut in two pieces, separating leaded/funnel glass from clean glass. Clean glass is resold in the commodities market. Leaded glass is sent to lead smelters for the production of steel

CRT pulverizor/granulator air filtration system
Credit: U.S. Micro
CRT pulverizor/granulator air filtration system

Once the CRT glass has passed through the auto cutter and separated into lots of clean glass and leaded glass, the clean glass containers are processed using the CRT pulverizor/granulator.

This turns clean glass from 2"x2" pieces into the consistency of sand for more efficient storage and shipping. Unleaded clean glass is sold as a commodity.

Shredder, separators and picking station
Credit: U.S. Micro
Shredders, separators and picking station

The main shredder, the large machine with yellow box, shreds a broad range of IT assets into 4" x 2" pieces. The manual picking station on the walkway is where ferrous metals and plastics are manually sorted. The cylinder is a chain impact separator , which breaks all remaining shredded pieces that pass through the manual picking station into 1" x 1" or smaller pieces.

The box with the blue motor is a ferrous metal separator -- a high-powered rotating magnet removes all ferrous metals from the remaining product stream. Lastly, the stainless steel box is a eddy current separator, which separates non-ferrous metals from the remainder of the product stream.