General Information on Electronics and Ecycling
Electronics Recycling Questions and Answers
- General Information About Electronics
- How to Reuse or Recycle
- How to Buy Green Electronics
- Information for Households, Businesses, Organizations, and Government Agencies
- Information About Electronics Recyclers
- Where Can I Recycle My Old Electronics?
- Information About Electronics Retailers and Manufacturers
- Information for Recyclers
- State Requirements for Electronics Retailers and Recyclers
- Information About the Digital Conversion for Televisions
- Listen to an excellent EPA podcast about cell phone recycling
On this page:
- What Hazards Are In Electronics?
- What Electronics Can Be Recycled?
- What are Best Management Practices for Electronics?
- What Regulations Apply to Electronics?
- When are Electronics Considered a Hazardous Waste?
Computer monitors and older TV picture tubes contain an average of four pounds of lead and require special handling at the end of their lives.
A typical Cathode Ray Tube (CRT)
contains 4 lbs. of lead.
Other Hazards in Electronics:
When electronics are not disposed of or recycled properly, these toxic materials can cause health and environmental problems.
In addition to local recycling and collection events, many organizations accept donations of electronics for recycling. Also, major electronics retailers have programs to recycle old electronics. Learn where to donate or recycle old computers and other electronic products.
First, Buy Green
Environmentally responsible electronics management involves purchasing new equipment that has been designed with environmentally preferable attributes. The Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) is a purchasing tool that helps all purchasers evaluate, compare, and select desktop computers, notebooks, and monitors based on their environmental attributes. EPEAT also provides a clear and consistent set of performance criteria for the design of products, and provides an opportunity for manufacturers to secure market recognition for their efforts to reduce the environmental impact of their products. For more information, see the Manufacturer Asset Recovery, Trade-In, and Leasing Programs.
Second, Reuse or Donate
Preventing waste is the best waste management practice. Donating used (but still operating) electronics for reuse extends the lives of valuable products and keeps them out of the waste stream for a longer period of time. In addition to being an environmentally preferable alternative, reuse also benefits society. Visit the sites below for more information.
- Techsoup– The Technology Place for Non-Profits
- U.S. EPA eCycling – How to Reduce Waste Electronics
- Reuse It!
- Reuse, Donation, and Recycling Programs
- Conserves natural resources
- Protects the environment
- Helps others
- Creates jobs and expands markets
So, drop off your old electronics at a local recycling program or electronics collection event. Or, ask your retail store or equipment manufacturer about product take-back programs. For more information, visit the sites below.
Businesses, organizations, and institutions must follow federal and State hazardous and solid waste regulations when they dispose of or intend to dispose of unwanted electronics. CRTs in color computer monitors and televisions are considered hazardous when disposed or when intended for disposal because of the lead in the CRT. For more information about the hazards in electronics, visit EPA's national Web page. View your state's regulations here.
For Recycling or Reuse:
If you choose to recycle or to reuse computer and television monitors, and other electronics, then you must follow the federal Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) Rule. (PDF)
Electronics are considered a hazardous waste when
- they are generated by a non-household
- they are generated at a rate of more than 220 lbs per month
- they exhibit a hazardous waste characteristic
- they are being sent for disposal
Electronics are not considered a hazardous waste when
- they come from a household
- they are intended for reuse or recycling
- they are processed scrap metal
- they are whole or shredded circuit boards