You are responsible for all sensitive data to the very end of its life. It may seem like the job of protecting the information ends when you retire the equipment or take the tape out of service but it does not. You need to make sure the media is destroyed or rendered useless in an appropriate manner. The easiest way to do this is to leave it to media destruction professional.
Unfortunately, a number of media “destruction professionals” are actually commodity recyclers. These organizations make their money by selling your electronic media to other recyclers or recycle it themselves. A number of these “recyclers” tend to pop-up when commodity prices are high such as they are now.
Your job is to make sure the company to which you are entrusting the safe disposal of your equipment is suitably qualified for the task. A good place to start is the National Association for Information Destruction (NAID) http://www.naidonline.org/ . The NAID has a certification program which establishes standards for a secure destruction process including such areas as operational security, employee hiring and screening, the destruction process, responsible disposal and insurance. The NAID also performs unannounced audits which assures you that certified companies aren’t just compliant once a year.
The NAID web site has a handy search feature that lets you search for certified members. It’s a great place to begin your search for a happy ending.