Cascade’s annual report includes data the company collected on the 560,000 assets it processed in 2018 and 2019. | fizkes/Shutterstock

Resale values for used computers declined in 2019 after multiple years of increases, according to an ITAD firm. One possible culprit is generators opting for device destruction over data wiping.

Cascade Asset Management, a Madison, Wis.-headquartered processor, released its annual ITAD Benchmarking Report last week, detailing a number of trends in the electronics recycling and reuse industry. The report is compiled from data Cascade collected on the 560,000 assets it processed in 2018 and 2019, a review of industry research and a survey of the company’s customers.

Cascade sold significantly more computers in 2019 compared with the prior year but received a lower average price for those devices, according to the report. The average price earned from used desktop computers dropped by 12%, despite a 41% increase in unit sales. And the number of used laptop sales grew by 89%, while seeing a 4% decline in average price.

Customer data security requests played into this reversal, according to Cascade.

“One contributing factor to the decline in average prices is an increase in enterprises requesting hard drives be removed and shredded from devices, thereby lowering their average resale price,” according to the report.

Cascade also saw a greater overall number of computers hitting the secondary sales market, influenced by companies refreshing their equipment for Windows 10 compatibility. This echoes a global PC sales report issued by research firm Gartner this month, reporting high sales of new PCs due to operating system refreshes. That secondary marketplace influx contributed to lower average resale prices by flooding the market with supply.

It was a different story altogether in the smartphone and tablet sector, which saw average resale prices increase by 50% over the previous year.

“There is plenty of demand domestically and internationally for refurbished smartphones and tablets that are within a few generations of current models,” said Paul Keough, resale manager for Cascade, in a release.

Prices and demand are such that “it even makes sense for us to invest in the repair of damaged smartphones,” he added.

The following are some other takeaways from the report:

  • Cascade noted customers continue to prioritize data security and privacy risks above all other factors when considering IT disposal options. In 2019, 94% of survey respondents said data security is “critically important” to their choice of ITAD option, an increase of 12 percentage points over 2018.
  • Cascade also found companies are prioritizing security by taking steps to sanitize or secure their data in-house before the devices go to an ITAD vendor. Compared with 2018, 24% more organizations are encrypting their drives.
  • Certification standards continue to receive more interest from ITAD customers, Cascade noted. The survey asked respondents for their thoughts on ISO 9001, e-Stewards, ISO 14001, NAID and R2 certifications, and Cascade found growth in the number of responses describing each certification as either “critically, very or somewhat important to them.” “That being said, more than one-third of respondents weren’t aware of any of these standards, indicating that more education is needed by the ITAD industry in this area,” Cascade added.

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