Guide to Computer & Electronics
Waste Reduction and Recycling
What should I Know about Recycling Computers and other Electronics?
As more new and improved computers and electronic devices are designed and built, more older obsolete equipment is becoming part of the waste stream. The good news about electronic equipment waste is that there need not be any. This list document will explain how to handle recycling different parts of the computer and provide a List of Computer Recycling Vendors in Ohio, and outside Ohio who rebuild computers for schools and other uses or will accept computer parts for recycling as well as recycling of hand held electronic devices such as wireless phones.
There are three primary parts that make up a personal computer. The computer is the large box which contains the disk drive, power supply, and the processor. The computer may also contain other components such as the sound and video cards, and internal modems. The monitor is the screen, or the part of the computer that looks like a television (also referred to as a cathode ray tube or CRT ). The keyboard is the part which, not surprisingly, looks like a typewriter keyboard. In some older models, the computer may be housed in the same case as the monitor or the keyboard. For the purposes of this fact sheet the keyboard is considered to be part of the computer.
Virtually an entire computer can be recycled. From the glass in the monitor, to the plastic in the case, to the copper in the power supply, to the precious metals used in the circuitry. Companies are making new innovative products out of old computers. Many computers can be revitalized and sold to schools in economically challenged urban and rural areas. Some vocational schools use old computers to teach electronic repair and analysis techniques. Non-functioning computers may also have salvageable components such as modems or power supplies that could be used to refurbish other computers. One company is even turning old circuit boards from computers into novel products like clip-boards and notebooks.
Not all companies are equally equipped to recycle all parts of a computer. Some companies, for example, may charge a handling fee for recycling monitors, since they contain significant quantities of lead and some quantities of other hazardous materials such as barium. Other companies, however, specialize in monitor recycling and do not charge a fee. So depending on your waste situation you may want to choose more than one company to recycle your computer waste.
Regulatory Considerations for Disposing of Computers and Monitors
It is important to note that if you should decide to dispose of computers and monitors, you could be considered a generator of hazardous waste under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). RCRA requires generators of solid wastes containing toxic constituents (such as lead and barium) to determine whether or not the waste is hazardous by using generator knowledge or by testing representative samples of that waste. If you do not test used computers and monitors and prove them non-hazardous, you must assume they are hazardous waste and dispose of them at a permitted hazardous waste facility or recycle them.
Under Ohio's provisions, computer CRTs are not regulated as hazardous wastes if the generator has them recycled. Ohio considers discarded integrated circuits from computer systems to be scrap metal. Scrap metal is not regulated as hazardous waste if it is reclaimed or recycled. For more information on Ohio's hazardous waste regulations, please contact the Division of Hazardous Waste Management at (614) 644-2917.
I'm Just a Homeowner, What Should I Do?
Homeowners are not considered hazardous waste generators under RCRA. Therefore, there aren't any laws or restrictions against disposing of computers or CRTs (monitors, televisions, etc.) in the municipal solid waste stream in Ohio. However, because these items do contain hazardous materials and because they are highly recyclable, disposing of them in landfill facilities is not the best way of managing them. The average 15-inch computer monitor contains over 1.5 lbs. of lead. Disposing of a hazardous waste in a landfill could pose a threat to drinking water and result in other environmental hazards in the future. If you have questions regarding how to get rid of your old household computer or about Ohio's solid waste regulations, please contact the Ohio EPA Division of Solid and Infectious Waste Management (DSIWM) at (614) 644-2621 for more information. Your local solid waste management district may also collect computers and electronics for recycling, or know of area recyclers who can take your old computer or other electronics. You can contact the Ohio EPA Division of Solid and Infectious Waste Management (DSIWM) if you don't know how to get in contact with your solid waste management district.
If it is not practical for you to find a certified recycler for your old computer or computer monitor, you can contact the local Goodwill, Salvation Army, AmVets, or other organization where you can donate the computer for resale or refurbishing. You might also contact school districts near you to see if they can use your computer. The following sites also have information about donating used computers:
Share the Technology
The Used Computer Mall
This list was compiled by the Office of Compliance Assistance & Pollution Prevention. Sources for these listings include the list of companies who have contacted the Ohio EPA, as well as existing lists and directories and the U.S. EPA list of computer recyclers. These companies have identified themselves as recyclers of computers and/or electronic components.
Each business was contacted for current status, confirmation on location and details on services offered. Please note that this list is only a partial representation of recyclers and is updated periodically. This list should not be seen as an endorsement or approval of the businesses by Ohio EPA. Users of this list are encouraged to research the compliance status of any business they utilize. If you wish to be added to the list, or if you have any questions contact the Office of Compliance Assistance & Pollution Prevention
Most of the companies listed recycle only computers, but some may accept other electronic components as well. Some companies recycles only monitors, and this will be indicated at the bottom of the specific listing. You might also want to check the Ohio EPA's Fluorescent Lamp and Ballast Recyclers List since some fluorescent lamp recyclers are now recycling CRTs.
For further recycling information, you can check the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources - Recycle Ohio WWW page
Also see the Electronics Recycling Initiative, developed by the National Recycling Coalition and the National Electronics Product Stewardship Initiative facilitated by the Center for Clean Products and Clean Technologies at the University of Tennessee.
Ohio’s Materials Exchange (OMEx)
A material exchange is a service which promotes the use of one company’s un-wanted material as another’s raw material. It is an information clearinghouse for available by-products, virgin products and other forms of unwanted industrial materials. A material exchange identifies both producers and markets for solid and hazardous materials.
A national computer recycling listserv. To subscribe to the list, send e-mail to:
- Leave the Subject line blank
- In the Message Text area enter: "sub CompRecycle Your name"