The National Center for Electronics Recycling (NCER) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization formed in 2005 that is dedicated to the development and enhancement of a national infrastructure for the recycling of used electronics in the U.S. through 1) the coordination of initiatives targeting the recycling of used electronics in the United States, 2) participation in pilot projects to advance and encourage electronics recycling, and 3) the development of programs that reduce the burden of government through private management of electronics recycling systems. At the local level, the NCER has spearheaded an electronics recycling initiative in the state of West Virginia, which has increased awareness in the state, prevented hundreds of thousands of pounds of electronics from entering state landfills, and helped spur the local recycling industry.
While the NCER does not take positions on legislative proposals for electronics recycling systems, the NCER is ready to assist in the implementation of recycling programs across the country and believes that national and regional approaches offer the best way forward. When feasible, the following principles should be incorporated in any consideration of systems for managing used electronics:
- Any system should allow flexibility and encourage competition for the collection, transportation, and recycling of used electronics.
- To the greatest extent possible, local, state, and regional stakeholders should strive to develop systems that are integrated and function together in order to create efficiencies.
- All state or regional-based systems should avoid legal or regulatory requirements that would prevent the establishment of a national system in the future.
- In any system, opportunities for the private administration of the recycling system that may create more efficient systems should be explored.
- Any system should seek national and regional consistency for compliance and data collection.
To conserve natural resources.
Valuable material can be recovered and reused!
To support the community.
Donating your old electronics supports schools, low-income families, and non-profits by providing needed electronics.
To create local jobs.
As demand for electronics recycling increases, new businesses will form and existing companies will grow.
To protect public health and the environment.
Most electronics contain hazardous materials that should not be disposed of in landfills.
How Are Electronics Recycled?
There are currently two dominant approaches to recycling used electronic products: demanufacturing (or manual dismantling) and shredding.
Demanufacturing involves manually dismantling the electronics in order to market the recyclable raw materials/products that are found. The dismantling process yields more components that can be reused in secondary markets. Demanufacturing/dismantling is most usually done by trained technicians who use a variety of machine and hand tools.
Shredding involves a minimal amount of manual sorting and separation of components. In the shredding process, electronics are loaded into large pieces of shredding equipment. The shredding process allows recyclers to recover the maximum value from the recyclable metals in used electronics. Shredding operations employ fewer workers since most of the work is accomplished by large pieces of equipment.
How Do I Recycle Electronics?
NCER is not a provider of electronics recycling services, although we have held collection events in our home state of West Virginia. Please see the search engines listed below to find an electronics recycler in your area.
Search For An Electronics Recycler in Your Area:
- Greener Gadgets Directory – http://greenergadgets.org
Because databases are by their nature dynamic and the electronics recycling industry is rapidly changing, it takes continual effort to update and maintain these databases. Please keep this in mind when using these search engines.
- Reuse is Preferable, but Don’t Dump Your Junk! The NCER encourages reuse of working, newer equipment as the first option for used electronic equipment, and has listed several non-profit and other reuse programs below. However, many of these programs are unable to handle broken or severely outdated equipment. It is always advisable to call ahead to see if your used equipment meets that program’s needs.
- Protect Your Data If you are reusing or recycling a laptop or desktop computer, your personal data could still be on your hard drive. Most recyclers have hard drive wiping policies, but it is always in your best interest to protect your personal information by erasing or destroying your hard drive. There are many hard drive wiping software programs available. You can read more about the importance of hard drive erasure as well as do a comparison of some of the more popular software programs by going to Tech Soup’s website at: http://www.techsoup.org/learningcenter/software/page5726.cfm
- Call Ahead Many recyclers are not set up to take small loads of computer and electronic equipment – many deal strictly in e-cycling on a commercial level. As a result, you should contact recyclers ahead of time to ensure that they can receive your equipment. A few handy search engines for electronics recyclers are included on this page.