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Why Recycle?

"Fotos of E-Waste," taken by Flickr user transmediate, 2009.

“Fotos of E-Waste,” taken by Flickr user transmediate, 2009.

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.

Scroll down for more information on this topic, including detailed fact sheets, videos and references.

Fact Sheet 2: Why Recycle E-Waste: Triple Bottom Line Benefits. Click to read.

Why Recycle E-Waste? Avoiding Environmental & Societal Harm

Fact Sheet 3: Why Recycle E-Waste? Avoiding Environmental & Societal Harm. Click to read.









Why Recycle E-Waste? - Part 1

Why Recycle E-Waste? - Part 2

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:

China Daily, 2009, ‘Lead levels in children linked to rise in e-waste profits’, China Daily, November 16. Available at:

Gerken, P., Wozniak, T. S., and Contrada, C., 2011, Lucas County Solid Waste Management 2010 Draft Plan Update. Available:

Global Witness, 2010, ‘A Guide for Companies: Do No Harm’, July. Available:

Kuehr, R., 2009, ‘Set world standards for electronic recycling, reuse to curb e-waste exports to developing countries, experts urge’, United Nations University. Available:

Margot Perez-Sullivan, 2012, ‘Major operations begin on $25 million construction at Sunrise Landfill’, US EPA Newsroom. Available:

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.

Ohio Fact Source, undated, ‘Why Recycle’. Available:

United Nations Security Council, 2012, Interim Report of the DRC Group of Experts, document no. S/2012/348, United Nations. Available:

US EPA, 2011, Electronics Waste Management In the United States Through 2009 – Executive Summary. Available:

US EPA, 2010, ‘Governmental regulations for landfill placements’. Available:

US EPA, 1978, Annex 1 to Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. Available:

USGS, 2001, ‘Obsolete Computers, “Gold Mine,” or High-Tech Trash?’, United States Geological Survey. Available:

U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, 2012, ‘SEC Adopts Rule for Disclosing Use of Conflict Minerals’. Available:

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’ July 8, 2010.

European Commission, ‘European Commission DG ENV. E3. Heavy Metals in Waste, Final Report.’ February 2002. Available:

Kuehr, Ruediger. ‘Experts Urge Global Standards for Electronics RecyclingReuse to Curb Growing E-Waste Exports to Developing Countries’,  United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security,  September 15, 2009. Available:

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:, Accessed October 2012.

S. Schwarzer et. al. ‘Environment Alert Bulleting – Ewaste, the Hidden Side of IT Equipment’s Manufacturing and Use’, United Nations Environment ProgrammeJanuary 2005. Available:

Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition. ‘Electronics Industry: A Dazzling Industry with a Dark Side’ Available: Accessed May 2010

US EPA, “Safer Disposal for Solid Waste The Federal Regulations for Landfills’ Available:

US EPA Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery. 2011 “Electronics Waste Management in the United States through 2009, Executive Summary.” May 2011. Available:

U.S. Geological Survey ‘USGS Fact Sheet FS-060-01’, July 2001. Available: 

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:

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