What do you do with that cracked screen you just removed from the tablet you're working on? Don't throw it out; recycle it.
Electronics contain all sorts of nasty chemicals and toxic materials and should not be sent to a landfill. E-waste is a growing international crisis. You, as a repair technician, must be part of the solution.
Not only is e-waste recycling the responsible thing that every repair technician should do, it's the law. And as an added bonus to doing the right thing, many e-waste recyclers will pay for e-scrap materials.
Recycling Standards ¶
Not every recycling company is worthy of your e-waste. Up to 70-80% of the e-waste that is supposedly “recycled” is sent to developing countries, according to estimates by the anti-e-waste crusaders at Basel Action Network (BAN). In places such as Ghana, India, and China, poorly paid workers, sometimes children, sort and take apart the waste, breathing toxic fumes as they melt down circuit boards and other parts to get at precious metals inside. Before you pick a recycling company, do some research about what they do with the hardware they receive — if they can’t or won’t tell you, that’s a bad sign.
How can you tell which recycling companies are trustworthy? It’s not as cut and dried as you might hope. But there are some tools to help consumers like us find reputable companies. In the US, there are two major certification groups: e-Stewards, from the environmental watchdog BAN, and Responsible Recycling (R2), from non-profit SERI. Here’s a list of most of the R2-certified recyclers, and here’s a searchable database of e-Stewards recyclers. R2 and e-Stewards both certify recyclers through “certifying bodies,” which are independent companies, who are in turn certified by the ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board.
So, in all that alphabet soup, what’s the difference between R2 and e-Stewards? We looked into it. Some recyclers are certified only by one, and others have both certifications. The bottom line: We’ve reviewed them both, and we support both measures of accreditation. When you’re looking to recycle your electronics, you can trust a recycler with either certification.
E-Waste Laws and How to Follow Them ¶
United States of America ¶
The United States of America does not have a national e-waste mandate. However, individual states have passed state e-waste laws. The list below is a community-built list. If your state isn't listed below, don't assume there's not state e-waste law for you to follow.
- Recycle Indiana: e-waste
- Indiana Electronic Waste Program Registered Collectors (PDF)
- Indiana Solid Waste Management Districts
New York ¶
Texas requires all companies that manufacturer new computers to offer free recycling for consumers.
The European Union Directive on e-waste stipulates in article 5 that all households can return their e-waste free of charge. You can return your irreparable equipment free of charge to
- specialised collection facilities,
- to the distributor from whom you purchase an equivalent new product, even electronic merchants,
- or to department stores, who are obliged to take back small appliances without any obligation for you to purchase a new product.
Batteries, cells and lamps can in many countries be returned in collectors in supermarkets and a large number of small retail stores.
The list below contains country-specific solutions to find e-waste return points near you.
- Eco-systèmes: Need to get rid of a device?
- Recyclum: Recycle lamps, fire extinguishers and professional electrical devices.
- You may send back defect devices to professional waste management companies via DHL's electroreturn
- In this context we recommend the company AfB. Get your return label here.
- For more information about the German e-waste situation please head over to Kreislaufwirtschaft.
- CdC RAEE is a national government institution coordinating electric and electronic devices collection and recycling. Centro di Coordinamento RAEE
The Netherlands ¶
Middle East ¶
Several countries in the Middle East have set up their own national e-waste legislation. Some initiatives are listed below.