Recycling is the best way to dispose of electronics at the end of their useful life, and offers benefits across the triple bottom line. This module outlines these benefits. Proper recycling of e-waste has environmental benefits: it conserves energy, materials and landfill space. Some electronics contain toxic substances – such as lead and mercury – which are hazardous to human health and safety, and ecosystems (the Electronics Toxics Calculator helps compute potential toxics contained in your electronics). Recycling reduces these risks and promotes environmental justice, particularly in non-OECD countries. Electronics recycling and remanufacturing also creates jobs and economic development opportunities. Strategies for managing data security during recycling are discussed on the Recycling and Security page.
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References & Helpful Links
al., S. S., 2005, ‘E-waste, the hidden side of IT equipment’s manufacturing and use’, Environment Alert Bulletin, United Nations Environment Programme. Available: http://www.grid.unep.ch/products/3_Reports/ew_ewaste.en.pdf
China Daily, 2009, ‘Lead levels in children linked to rise in e-waste profits’, China Daily, November 16. Available at: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/cndy/2011-11/16/content_14101761.htm
Gerken, P., Wozniak, T. S., and Contrada, C., 2011, Lucas County Solid Waste Management 2010 Draft Plan Update. Available: http://www.co.lucas.oh.us/documents/Solid%20Waste%20Management/2005%20Plan%20Update/2011%20Final%20Draft%20Plan%20-%20revised%204%2020%2011.PDF
Global Witness, 2010, ‘A Guide for Companies: Do No Harm’, July. Available: http://www.globalwitness.org/library/do-no-harm-guide-companies-sourcing-drc
Kuehr, R., 2009, ‘Set world standards for electronic recycling, reuse to curb e-waste exports to developing countries, experts urge’, United Nations University. Available: http://www.ehs.unu.edu/file/get/4080
Margot Perez-Sullivan, 2012, ‘Major operations begin on $25 million construction at Sunrise Landfill’, US EPA Newsroom. Available: http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/0/04373FD5B9538AF2852579A50055193C
National Recycling Coalition in association with E.W. Beck, Inc., 2001, ‘Ohio Recycling Economic Information Study’, Final Report prepared for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, January. http://www.un.org/sc/committees/1533/egroup.shtml
Ohio Fact Source, undated, ‘Why Recycle’. Available: http://ohiodnr.com/Home/why/tabid/9402/Default.aspx
United Nations Security Council, 2012, Interim Report of the DRC Group of Experts, document no. S/2012/348, United Nations. Available: http://www.securitycouncilreport.org/atf/cf/%7B65BFCF9B-6D27-4E9C-8CD3-CF6E4FF96FF9%7D/DRC%20S%202012%20348.pdf
US EPA, 2011, Electronics Waste Management In the United States Through 2009 – Executive Summary. Available: http://www.epa.gov/osw/conserve/materials/ecycling/docs/summarybaselinereport2011.pdf
US EPA, 2010, ‘Governmental regulations for landfill placements’. Available: http://www.epa.gov/osw/nonhaz/municipal/pubs/landsma.txt
US EPA, 1978, Annex 1 to Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. Available: http://www.epa.gov/glnpo/glwqa/1978/annex.html
USGS, 2001, ‘Obsolete Computers, “Gold Mine,” or High-Tech Trash?’, United States Geological Survey. Available: http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/fs060-01/fs060-01.pdf
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, 2012, ‘SEC Adopts Rule for Disclosing Use of Conflict Minerals’. Available: http://www.sec.gov/news/press/2012/2012-163.htm
Aucott, Michael, ‘The Fate of Heavy Metals in Landfills’ The Tidal Exchange, Summer 2008, Issue No. 21.
Global Witness. ‘Do No Harm: A Guide for Companies Sourcing from the DRC’ http://www.globalwitness.org/media_library_detail.php/1019/en/do_no_harm_a_guide_for_companies_sourcing_from_the. July 8, 2010.
European Commission, ‘European Commission DG ENV. E3. Heavy Metals in Waste, Final Report.’ February 2002. Available: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/waste/studies/pdf/heavy_metalsreport.pdf
Kuehr, Ruediger. ‘Experts Urge Global Standards for Electronics Recycling, Reuse to Curb Growing E-Waste Exports to Developing Countries’, United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security, September 15, 2009. Available: http://www.ehs.unu.edu/file/get/4080
Koerner, Robert M., ‘GRI White Paper # 1 – Do We Need Monitoring Wells at Double-Lined Landfills?’ Geosynthetic Institute, February 15, 2001
Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Recycling and Litter Prevention website, Available: http://www.ohiodnr.com/Home/why/tabid/9402/Default.aspx, Accessed October 2012.
S. Schwarzer et. al. ‘Environment Alert Bulleting – E‐waste, the Hidden Side of IT Equipment’s Manufacturing and Use’, United Nations Environment Programme, January 2005. Available: http://www.grid.unep.ch/products/3_Reports/ew_ewaste.en.pdf
Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition. ‘Electronics Industry: A Dazzling Industry with a Dark Side’ Available: http://www.svtc.org/site/PageServer?pagename=svtc_electronic_industry_overview. Accessed May 2010
US EPA, “Safer Disposal for Solid Waste The Federal Regulations for Landfills’ Available: http://www.epa.gov/osw/nonhaz/municipal/pubs/landsma.txt
US EPA Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery. 2011 “Electronics Waste Management in the United States through 2009, Executive Summary.” May 2011. Available: http://www.epa.gov/osw/conserve/materials/ecycling/docs/summarybaselinereport2011.pdf
U.S. Geological Survey ‘USGS Fact Sheet FS-060-01’, July 2001. Available: http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/fs060-01/fs060-01.pdf
United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) “Electronic Waste: EPA Needs to Better Control Harmful U.S. Exports through Stronger Enforcement and More Comprehensive Regulation.” August 2008. Available: http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d081044.pdf