Laws And Guidance For The Disposal Of Electronic Waste

2 August 2017
 Categories: , Blog


As people become more and more enamored with the next, new electronic device, they accumulate a plethora of older, obsolete devices. Eventually, these devices need to be disposed of. But, how should you get rid of the equipment in a responsible fashion?

If you examine the laws regarding electronic waste disposal at the federal level, you find that…there aren't any actual laws that govern or mandate the recycling of electronic waste. The only, actual law that governs the disposal of hazardous materials in electronic components is outdated; it is the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976. The material that is covered is cathode ray tubes or CRTs. Ironically, these components are rarely used anymore as they were predominately used in TVs.

Countries outside the US have enacted much more stringent laws to enforce the proper disposal of or recycling of electronic waste. One example is the Waste Electrical and Electronics Equipment Directive. The directive became European law in 2003. Each member country then chose how to implement it. The key parts dictate how electronic waste is collected, recycled, and recovered and sets targets on how much should be recovered per capita. The directive also classifies hazardous waste and how it should be handled.

Within the US, states have started trying to address the holes that have not been filled by Federal regulation. States are concerned because hazardous chemicals and compounds can be released in landfills and into surrounding areas when trash is buried or burned. As more and more electronics are thrown away, the level of contamination can only increase.

California, for example, passed the Electronic Waste Recycling Act of 2003. This act is intended to provide a way to fund the collection, recycling, and proper disposal of electronic devices. Other laws and acts categorize the different types of electronic waste and determine reimbursement for certain types of device recycling or disposal.

Given the wide disparity in laws within the US, responsible companies and consumers look for ways to recycle devices versus throwing them away. In many cases, you can donate equipment that still functions to various charities so they can be reused. Many cities also have recycling centers where you can drop off your old cell phones, tablets, computers, or other devices so they can be correctly deconstructed to dispose of hazardous materials and recycle others. Also, many companies allow you to trade in your old devices when purchasing a new one; these companies then recycle the electronics in an environmentally responsible fashion.

The best way to make sure that you are responsible when it is time to retire a device is to find an appropriate facility to recycle it instead of throwing it away. Because of the disparate regulations per state and lack of federal mandates, it is up to consumers like you to make sure that hazardous materials from products are disposed of properly and don't end up in landfills.

Contact an ewaste recycling company for more information and assistance.