Electronic Waste Recycling Information
What items are considered to be "electronics?"
of electronics are: televisions and computer monitors, laptops, computers
and computer peripherals (peripherals are anything you plug into
your computer for input, output, or storage, keyboard, mouse,
printer, external hard drives, etc.),
televisions, audio and stereo
equipment, VCRs, DVD players, video cameras, telephones, fax and
copying machines, cellphones, wireless devices, video game
consoles and more.
Why prevent electronics from entering the landfill?
electronics are made up of chemicals that could potentially be
harmful to the environment if disposed of incorrectly. Metals
such as lead, silver, barium, cadmium, and mercury could be
included in these devices. With proper recycling, these metals
could be disposed of safely and wouldn’t be able to harm the
useful life of a computer is approximately 3 years and continues
to decline. Only a
small of computers are being recycled, though the production of
computers is rising.
contain valuable natural resources, such as precious metals,
plastic and glass. Discarded electronics means discarded
resources that could be reused.
Conserving these resources also means preventing
additional pollution and wasted energy obtaining virgin
electronic models, especially televisions and monitors, contain
cathode ray tubes (CRTs), batteries, and mercury switches.
These elements contain mercury, lead, and other
types of hazardous materials.
Recycling prevents the emission and exposure of these
be qualified for a tax break if they donate computers to schools
receiving special grants.
What are the regulations concerning electronics disposal for businesses?
generating the waste is the only one responsible for determining
whether the waste would be considered hazardous waste under the
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The generator also has to
make sure that the waste is managed and disposed of properly.
The EPA allows
electronics that will be recycled to be managed under the
Universal Waste regulations, which simplifies the management of
The EPA must be
notified if your business intends on exporting cathode ray tube
(CRT) computer monitors to make sure the company allows the
What are the regulations concerning recyclers, refurbishers or
Due to current
regulations, electronics that will be reused, rebuilt, or
remanufactured are not considered waste under the RCRA. If the
units are demanufactured into individual components, the RCRA
must evaluate any issues on a case-by-case basis. Individual
components that are generated and disposed of require evaluation
under TCLP criteria and should be managed according to that.
Waste Management Regulations may also apply to the management of
electronic wastes, but changes are expected for these
regulations in the very near future.
What can I do to help minimize the electronics disposal problem?
to dispose of your electronics determine if the product can be
potentially upgraded for use in the future or donated to someone
else who will be able to use it (try contacting charities,
non-profits, governments, or schools)
If you do
decide to dispose of electronics, determine if the product will
be able to be recycled anywhere in your area and whether or not
the product can be disposed of according to regulations in your
Why reuse or recycle outdated computer and electronic equipment?
devices make up approximately one percent of the annual
209,700,000 tons of solid waste generated in the
United States. It is further
estimated that the total volume of electronic equipment recycled
in the U.S. was approximately 134,000 tons
in 1998. Another 1.3 million units were "reused" by third
waste can be reused or donated to not-for-profit organizations
or demanufactured into usable components. Components such as
cathode ray tubes, printed circuit boards, and silicon chips can
be demanufactured into raw materials such as metals, plastics,
MORE ON E-CYCLING
at a recycling processor, electronics are weighed in bulk and
then separated into types according to how they will be
Once the parts
are disassembled, each component is evaluated for possible reuse
Parts that are not repairable are sent for separate processing
and recovery into raw material, like glass, plastic, and various
Parts that can
be refurbished may be physically repaired.
Computers may require software installations or memory
upgrades, and other electronic equipment may require small part
recyclables, computers posed a particular challenge for
recyclers, but the numerous parts of a computer provide numerous
options for resale or reuse.
Many hard drives and circuit boards remain intact within
an older model computer and can be resold.
These materials are typically made from a durable type of
polyethylene, which is easy to remove and process.
However, these parts can become easily contaminated and
must be kept clean for resale.
Screws and clips can be magnetically separated from the
computer and sold as scrap.
Monitors are separated from their plastic frames and
metal supports. If
the monitor contains a CRT, it is removed and crushed, safely
containing any hazardous mercury waste.
The glass and metal obtained is cleaned and sold.
Find a school,
organization, or family to whom you can donate your old
the life of the computer avoids waste of any kind.
If donating, ensure that equipment is operational, and
verify any software requirements of the receiving organization.
local recycling center or retailer for special collections,
programs, or incentives for electronics.
when making new electronics purchases. Look for electronics that
are energy efficient, made with recycled content, use minimal
packaging, and can be easily upgraded.
Considerations When Choosing to Dispose
1) Should you decide not to recycle, there are important
considerations to make. Depending on what type of electronic(s)
you have, you may have to pay special attention to regulations
under the RCRA (Resource Conservation and Recovery Act).
2) Those disposing of solid waste that contains such hazardous
or toxic materials as lead or barium (among others) are required
by the RCRA to test these components to prove them non toxic. If
the electronics are not tested they must be assumed hazardous
and may only be disposed of at a hazardous waste facility. They
may also be recycled.
4) Land fills are generally not the best method for ridding your
office of its broken or out of date electronic equipment.
This is due to multiple reasons:
a) These items are extremely recyclable. There is really no
need to dispose of them at all when they can we reused or
b) The toxic matter found in computers and other electronics
pose a large threat to the environment when dumped or disposed
of improperly. For
example, drinking water supplies can be negatively affected by
hazardous material that is left in a landfill.