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FAQs For Consumers

What is E-Waste (Electronic Waste)?

E-waste or electronic waste refers to all electronic devices, surplus, damaged or obsolete, which have been discarded by their original owners. According to United Nations estimate, the world produces up to 50 million tons of e-waste per year.

“Anything that has a wire, a plug, a battery or runs on electricity, that you probably aren’t going to use ever again comprises of Electronic waste.”

Why is it important to recycle e-waste?

  • E-Waste Pollution

    Electronic waste containing toxic chemicals and metals such as lead, cadmium mercury, which when disposed in landfills gain entry into surrounding soil, groundwater and ultimately end in us. In addition, improper processing of e-waste that causes toxicity. Informal processing of electronic waste in general poses serious health and pollution problems.

  • Benefits of Recycling Electronic Waste (Above the ground Mining!)

    Electrical waste contains hazardous but also valuable and scarce materials. Up to 60 elements can be found in complex electronics. Recycling raw materials from end-of-life electronics is the most effective solution to the growing e-waste problem.

  • The environmental and social benefits of recycling e-waste

    Environmental and social benefits of reuse include diminished demand for new products and virgin raw materials (with their own environmental issues); larger quantities of pure water and electricity for associated manufacturing; less packaging per unit; availability of technology to wider swaths of society due to greater affordability of products; and diminished use of landfills.

  • Prevent e-Waste from going into Landfills

    When old electronics are thrown into a landfill, all the energy that directly or indirectly goes into making a product is lost. This means than more energy and water is needed to make new products, emitting more greenhouse gases and using more water. Thus landfilling old electronics also wastes the natural resources used to make a product. Some of the materials used in electronic products are extremely rare and are running out fast.

  • E-Cycling instead of creating from scratch results in huge energy savings

    Creating secondary raw materials, i.e. e-cycling, results in huge energy savings .For instance, recycling steel into secondary raw material uses 74% less energy than the production of the primary product. Recycled Aluminum uses 95% less, Copper 85% less, Lead 65% less and Plastics 80% less – it’s a win, win, win scenario – we protect precious resources, divert usable materials from landfill and conserve energy all at the same time!

Do you really know your electronics recycler?

It can be difficult knowing the right questions to ask when investigating potential recycling service providers.  Even professional environmental auditors often do not have the proper training or experience to properly audit an electronics recycling operation in a way that protects their clients’ from data security and environmental issues. Moreover, making sure recyclers continue to perform as promised is very expensive, with even the most careful due diligence sometimes failing to protect your company. The complexity of effectively screening and hiring electronics recyclers leads many companies to award e-waste contracts to service providers with the lowest cost and, the lowest integrity.
Don’t think it can happen to your company?  Here is an example featured in 60 Minutes of a firm pretending to be a responsible recycler but shown to be exporting e-waste to China. Your brand, the security of you data, and your stature as a good corporate citizen are all threatened by recyclers who do not follow clear and transparent standards for handling your old electronics. Some recyclers even use U.S. prison labor to reduce costs. (Reference Source: www.estewards.org)

What are the important points to remember while donating computer equipment?

“If you would rather not dispose of the computer or electronics and want to offer them to people who have a need for the materials, there is the option of donating the equipment to a charity. There are a variety of charities that will take older computer materials and either use it in local facilities or process the items to be shipped overseas for use.
Be aware that many charities may have restrictions on the types of computers and electronics that are donated. Often times there will be a limit on how old the equipment can be as it will be considered antiquated and unsuitable for the charities purposes. While it used to be several years, many now will not take equipment more than a year old. Check with the charity to make sure that your equipment meets their standards. If it does not, then you will need to use a disposal or recycling service mentioned previously”. (Reference Source: http://compreviews.about.com/od/general/a/PCRecycling.htm)

Where can I donate old computers, laptops, cell phones, TVs and other electronics?

Manufacturers and retailers offer several options to donate or recycle electronics. Search below to find programs developed by Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) Electronics Challenge participants. If you are an original equipment manufacturer or retailer, learn how to Join the SMM Electronics Challenge. Participation in the SMM Electronics Challenge is voluntary. EPA does not endorse any of the participants or their products and services.For more information, visit EPA website http://www.epa.gov/osw/conserve/materials/ecycling/donate.htm

Where can I recycle my old electronics and computers?

While recycling computers, laptops, phones, printers, scanners, copiers, USBs, servers, TVs and other electronics it is important to only use eStewards or R2 certified e-cyclers. Search for a certified recycler near you using web sources like http://search.earth911.com/

Where to find and certified computer recycle Center?

There are a number of websites listing certified computer recycle centers near you. A few of the credible sources include http://search.earth911.com/ or www.estewards.org

Where can I find drop off Recycling Centers?

There are a number of drop off locations available to recycling your computers and other IT assets. More information can be found on http://search.earth911.com/

Where can I recycle TV?

There are a number of drop off locations available to recycling your Televisions. Since many of the old generation TVs consist of CRT glass, it is even more important to recycle these using certified e-waste recyclers. A list of certified e-waste recyclers can be found on www.estewards.org or search http://search.earth911.com/ for e-waste drop off centers.

What is CRT glass? Why is recycling CRT glass different from regular glass?

CRTs are the video display components of televisions and computer monitors. The glass in CRTs typically contains enough lead to require managing it as hazardous waste under certain circumstances. Under the previous regulations, businesses and other organizations that recycle or dispose of CRTs were sometimes unclear about the proper way to recycle or dispose of this equipment. That uncertainty sometimes prevented CRTs from being recycled and reused. EPA is changing CRT waste management requirements to promote additional safe recycling and reuse of CRTs. About 57 million computers and televisions are sold in the United States annually. (Reference source: http://www.epa.gov/osw/hazard/recycling/electron/crt-fs06.htm)

What are e-waste Laws? Is it legal to dump computers in trash or landfills?

Many states have passed laws that prohibit throwing out electronics into the garbage. In addition to laws in these states, many cities and counties also have laws dictating the methods of electronic and computer disposal. It is important before throwing out any old computer parts or electronics to check with the appropriate government agencies to determine the proper methods.

The easiest method for determining the proper laws governing the region that you live in is to contact your local waste management company and local governments. Often government web sites will list the e-waste disposal rules under the terms "waste management", "recycling" or "environmental agency". Programs for disposal may be free or carry fees depending upon the item being turned in for disposal. (Reference source: http://compreviews.about.com/od/general/a/PCRecycling.htm)

What happens to the e-waste if not recycled through proper channels?

“Unfortunately, an incredibly small percentage of e-waste is recycled. Even when we take it to a recycling center it’s usually not actually recycled – not in the way most of us think of that term. A small percentage of e-waste is estimated to be sent to recyclers. In the U.S., as little as 11%-14%. The remainder is most often dumped or burned – either in formal landfills and incinerators, or informally dumped or burned. These inappropriate disposal methods for electronic waste fail to reclaim valuable materials or manage the toxic materials safely. In effect, our soil, water and air are easily contaminated.


An estimated 70-80% of the e-waste that’s given to recyclers is exported to less developed countries. Once there, primitive technologies such as open air burning and riverside acid baths are used to extract a few materials. The rest of the toxic materials are usually dumped. Unlike other countries in the world, the U.S. sends a significant portion of its hazardous e-waste to U.S. prisons to process in less-regulated environments without the worker protections and rights afforded in the private sector. Moreover, such operations amount to government subsidies, undermining the development of responsible private-sector recycling infra-structure and distorting the economics of recycling”. (Referencesource:www.estewards.com)

What are electronics manufacturer recycling programs?

Many of the larger computer and electronics companies have begun offering recycling programs. Often these programs will take older computer parts in exchange for credits towards the purchase of new equipment from the manufacturer. Other programs may be a simple pickup and recovery service that they charge a small fee for. Be sure to check all of the details regarding the program with the company before using them. Some of the companies will simply refer the customer to the state disposal due to government regulation.

Here is a list of some of the recycling programs and information from various manufacturers:

  • Acer Recycling Program
  • Apple Recycling Program
  • Dell Recycling
  • Fujitsu Recycling of Electronic Waste
  • Gateway Trade In or Recycle
  • HP Product Return and Recycling
  • Lenovo Product Recycling
  • Sony Trade-In Recycling Program

(Reference Source: http://compreviews.about.com/od/general/a/PCRecycling.htm)

What should I do with my old computers and electronics?

Tips on Recycling computers and electronics:

  • Do not just throw away your old computer monitor or a broken phone in trash; take time to research how you can discard those in the most environmentally friendly way.
  • Follow the general 3Rs rule; Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
  • Electronics that are in working condition can be donated to the less fortunate, to schools and to those who can reuse them
  • Contact an E- Waste management and Recycling firm like Waste To Green, schedule a pick up or drop off your old electronics at our facility at no charge
  • A simple phone call can prevent your computer from becoming part of a landfill and you an environmentally conscious responsible citizen

Take Responsibility for
your E-waste!

First launched in August 2006 and now in its 9th edition, the Greenpeace ‘Guide to Greener Electronics’ ranks the leaders of the mobile phone, computer, TV and games console markets according to their policies and practices on toxic chemicals, recycling and energy.

The Greenpeace website states “The Greener Electronics Guide is our way of getting the electronics industry to take responsibility for the entire lifecycle of their products. We want them to face up to the problem of e-waste and take on the challenge of tackling climate change.

The Guide has been a key driving force in getting many companies to make significant improvements to their environmental policies, and it continues to provoke significant change in the industry.

We want to see an end to the stories of unprotected child laborers scavenging mountains of cast-off gadgets created by society’s gizmo-loving ways.

With more companies now scoring higher than 5 out of 10 – the halfway mark in the ranking – a company that rises to the challenge of phasing out toxic chemicals, increasing the recycling rate of e-waste, using recycled materials in new products and reducing its impact on climate change could soon find itself winning the race to produce the world’s first truly green electronics.” (Reference source, Greenpeace.org)