There are several recycling options available to you as a company to safely dispose of your electronic waste in California.
No matter which option you choose, it’s important that you follow all appropriate procedures to reduce the toll this modern day form of waste can take on both the environment and your business.
Electronic waste consists of electronic products that are near or at the end of their useful life. Electronic waste, or e-waste, has become a critical problem as companies and consumers have faster than ever begun incorporating newer versions of electronic equipment into their businesses and homes.
In fact, in 2018, businesses and individuals were responsible for nearly 50 million tons of e-waste across the globe.
What is considered electronic waste? A wide variety of everyday products, from televisions to cell phones, printers, lamps and computer equipment like monitors and towers. In the industrial sector, e-waste often consists of circuit boards to power supply units, lab equipment, tablets and servers.
Yet in the United States, of the 9 million tons of electronics that are tossed every year, only about 12.5% is recycled. This is a significant problem, especially considering several components of electrical equipment have been deemed hazardous and federal and state laws require the appropriate disposal of this equipment.
The state of California, however, is home to several organizations that recover unwanted electronics and make the process of e-waste recycling easier. There are also certified companies available that will safely and effectively dispose of e-waste for you.
CalRecycle offers a directory on its website that features several companies and organizations that participate in the Covered Electronic Waste Recovery and Recycling Program.
The site allows users to search by county or city, or by entering in an address to locate drop off sites nearby. Upon clicking on a facility, you can view their contact information. It’s important to check with the facility prior to drop off to determine what items a facility accepts, as well as hours and potential charges.
Not every site accepts the same e-waste items. While one may accept computers, for instance, it may not accept printer cartridges or larger appliances.
Important note: Before dropping off any piece of e-waste, make sure you remove any sensitive data. Deleting files doesn’t necessarily mean the data has been removed. Software professionals can help you clean off a drive so that you don’t expose yourself to data thieves.
While drop off sites can be a great resource if you have no more than a carload of e-waste, if you are installing new computers in every office of your facility or if you have larger items that make a trip to the facility more difficult, a waste disposal company may be your best option.
A waste disposal company certified in safe e-waste removal may also be able to accept items that many drop-off facilities do not, such as spent batteries or mercury-containing thermostats. If you regularly generate e-waste, a reputable waste disposal company can also help you manage the recycling of your waste on a regular basis.
For many companies, it can be difficult to know what exactly constitutes e-waste versus waste that can be discarded or recycled by other means. For instance, a large number of substances found in electronic devices are completely harmless.
Zinc plating, often found in steel production parts, is generally not considered to be harmful. Neither is the aluminum found in most electronics goods. However, problems arise when these items are paired with materials that DO pose a contamination risk, such as mercury found in computer monitors or beryllium oxide found in computer towers.
Attempting to separate these toxic items from their non-toxic counterparts can be dangerous, and should only be done by experienced professionals with proper training.
A certified electronic waste disposal company can help you determine the appropriate course of action for your electronic waste. This is important for any company, since improper disposal can subject you to substantial fines at both the state and federal levels.
The California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery recommends a “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” approach to disposing of your e-waste. Whenever possible:
If your equipment is no longer functional and is not possible to reuse, several drop off sites are available throughout the region to help you recycle your e-waste.
Working with a reputable company that will help you manage your e-waste, however, will ensure you have a proper system in place. A waste disposal company experienced in e-waste removal and disposal will also oversee the entire process, from picking up the equipment to ensuring it is recycled properly or disposed of following environmental regulations.
You can read more about why it’s easier than ever to properly dispose of your e-waste in our article, Why It’s Important to Dispose of E-Waste Properly.