Even though there aren’t any federal regulations about recycling electronic waste (despite numerous attempts), many states have passed laws making it illegal to discard e-waste along with a commercial building’s regular trash.
According to the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), Americans now own approximately 24 electronic products per household … so imagine how many devices are inside your building.
The term “e-waste” refers to any electronic products that are becoming obsolete or outdated: laptops, desktop computers, DVD players, phones, copiers, fax machines, TVs, monitors, printers, scanners, keyboards, tablets, receivers, etc. These electronics frequently end up in landfills or are incinerated, which may be linked to environmental problems. Many of these devices include extremely hazardous materials like lead, mercury, and cadmium. These chemicals can leak into the ground and atmosphere if not handled appropriately.
According to the Earth Day Network, Americans generate more than 50 million tons of e-waste each year. Of this, less than 20% was recycled, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. With e-waste rising every year, 25 states have now implemented e-waste laws to require e-cycling (the recycling of electronic devices) to lessen the impact on landfills.
To find out if your state has e-waste laws in place, visit the Electronics TakeBack Coalition’s state legislation map. California was the first state to sign an e-waste law in 2003.
Even if your state isn’t listed, you can still recycle your building’s e-waste. Select a recycling company that handles e-waste according to your state’s recycling regulations. This will ensure that your e-waste is being properly recycled vs. exported to other countries.
Most often, these regulations include:
- Keeping the e-waste within the United States
- Tracking each device from start to finish
- Sending all e-waste to licensed recycling facilities
- Clearing all personal info from the devices
- Providing documentation and a certificate of recycling that indicates how the e-waste was recycled
Some recycling companies also provide pick-up or drop-off options for e-waste.
If your state has implemented e-waste laws and you’re throwing away electronic devices, the fines can be as high as $7,000 or more per violation.
How do you handle e-waste in your building?