May Your PC Rest in Peace

Local Electronic Recycler Ensures Data Destruction

By Samantha Hogan

Source: The Frederick News Post

In the age of “digital delights,” when Atari and calculators were just starting to come out, a Frederick County couple saw a problem. Technology went out the door of Chafitz Electronics and ended up on the curb.

Computer components in boxes waiting to be recycled at e-End in Frederick.

Steve and Arleen Chafitz’s retail electronic store sold the emerging computers and games of the 1970s. One day, Steve turned to Arleen and said he wanted to start a recycling business for electronics, Arleen Chafitz said. Within 24 hours, Steve bought a warehouse in Frederick County, and soon after, e-End was born.

“When we first started recycling, people weren’t that environmentally conscious,”
— Steve said


The couple had to explain there was personal information on the computers people left on the curb destined for a landfill, Steve said. Even today, companies that invest in powerful firewalls leave old serves or piles of computers in unlocked rooms, he said. That puts personal information at risk.

Frederick County turned out to be a good place to launch the business. People in the area latched on to the concept, and Frederick County’s proximity to the federal government made e-End lucrative as the business grew, Steve Chafitz said.

Steve Chafitz, of e-End in Frederick with electronic circuit boards that have been removed from computers for recycling.

The Chafitzs celebrated their 10th anniversary in the electronic recycling and data destruction business this year. E-End destroys information on computers, cell phones, servers and a slew of other electronics at the end of their life.

“We protect what’s coming out the back door,”
— Steve said.

E-End works with small companies, such as The Frederick News-Post, all the way up to hospitals and federal agencies, Steve said. The company destroys “personal identifiable information,” which is at the heart of identity theft, and makes sure the components reach socially responsible recyclers for raw material collection.

The company has an R2 certification for responsible recycling. It requires e-End to refurbish electronics, repair them, and then do as much recycling as possible, Arleen said.

Arleen and Steve Chafitz, owners of e-End in Frederick with refurbished computers for sale.

The company is an authorized Microsoft refurbisher. Restored computer towers line the warehouse shelves for $25 to $65, and while they may not be the most up-to-date versions they are good for homework and internet access, Arleen said. Screens are available for as low as $15, and a wide range of sound equipment, computer parts and cords are also available.

Each electronic has its memory cleaned before it’s resold. At the core is the hard drive.

Destroying the hard drive of a computer isn’t as simple as hitting it repeatedly with a hammer. In fact, hitting it, reformatting it, or shredding it are all not enough, Steve said. Hard drives used to be destroyed by an extremely powerful magnet, he said. Now, some hard drives in phones are designed as “solid-state” devices, which cannot be destroyed with magnets. This presents a unique challenge for the company, which needs to guarantee 100 percent of the data is gone, so it shreds the phones instead and ships them to a recycler who melts down the different components.

The staff never looks at the information it is destroying, Steve said.

A box of weapons that have been destroyed, awaiting recycling at e-End in Frederick.

Recently, e-End expanded into police-confiscated weapon destruction. Steve was not at liberty to say which Maryland police department it was working with, but it has destroyed handguns, rifles, ballistic vests and even brass knuckles, he said.

“This is what’s confiscated off our streets,” Arleen said as she reached into a large cardboard box and lifted the shattered barrel of a gun.

The couple’s hope is that they can divert chromium, beryllium and heavy metals from landfills where they breakdown unnaturally and create what’s referred to as PC Poison, Steve said.

The couple has always been environmental, but the past 10 years has made them and the whole world greener, Arleen said. “We don’t have another planet to go to,” Steve added.

Follow Samantha Hogan on Twitter: @SAHogan.