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Electronic Equipment


Electronic Equipment Facts

  • As of August, 2013, electronic equipment is exempt from universal and hazardous waste regulations.  However, electronics contain valuable recyclable commodities as well as hazardous materials that need to be managed properly.

  • Electronic equipment contains a variety of hazardous substances that require special disposal.  For example:

    • Cathode ray tubes and the glass found in computer monitors and television screens contain large amounts of lead

    • Circuit boards and electronic wiring contain lead, chrome and other metals

    • Relays and switches can contain mercury

    • PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) can be present in older, larger equipment, and can cause endocrine disruption and neorotoxicity

    • Some materials can be recycled as commodities, such as lead (Pb), silver (Ag), barium (Ba), cadmium (Cd), and mercury (Hg)

  • Most, if not all, of the components that go into manufacturing electronics do not decompose in landfills, nor will they be destroyed if combusted in a waste-to-energy facility--instead they will be distributed into the environment if not disposed of properly

  • Important materials and resources can be reclaimed from obsolete equipment if the equipment is properly recycled--either refurbished for reuse or destroyed responsibly.

Electronic Equipment Management Strategy

Electronic Equipment Management Strategy

Conducting a workplace assessment for electronics equipment management

  • Survey the electronic equipment that your business uses--if you have an equipment change-out planned, include that in your estimate

  • Selecting a contractor

  • Explore your recycling options

  • Educate your maintenance and technical staff about how to implement the management strategy

  • Inform them of the importance of recovering electronics

  • Coordinate storage, packaging, and shipping logistics with appropriate staff (building engineers, information technology or audio-visual specialists, maintenance workers, custodial staff, etc.)

  • Kick-off the management program with an informational meeting with participants to recruit their support

  • Periodically review the program to evaluate its effectiveness and to make improvements


Safe Storage and Handling of Electronic Equipment

From the Know Toxics Universal
Waste & Used Electronics Training Manual

This and other information on safe storage and handling of lamps can be seen in the Know Toxics Universal Waste & Used Electronics Training Manual, pages 27-29.

Used electronics are not regulated as universal waste under the universal waste rule. However, the EPA and DEQ recommend proper recycling of used electronics, especially since many of these items, such as laptop computers, contain rechargeable batteries, which are universal waste.


A handler of used electronics should manage used electronics in a way that prevents releases to the environment.

  • Store electronics in a room with four walls, a ceiling and a roof, or in the cargo portion of a truck. Basically, anywhere that will prevent leakage or release to the environment.

  • Items in the storage area should be properly labeled.

  • Immediately clean up any spills or broken items and place materials in a container for proper disposal.

If businesses have computers or other used electronic devices to recycle, several firms and organizations have been identified as serving the computer and electronic recycling needs Virginia. A complete list can be found on the VA DEQ website for Computer and Electronics Recycling.*


Companies, governments, manufacturers, and individual purchasers are responsible for properly recycling their discarded materials in a safe and environmentally sound manner. In the absence of federal and state oversight, a company may want to consider a recycler that participates in an independent certification program to reduce their liability.


Additional Resources

*External link. The Northern Virginia Regional Commission does not author third party sites and their reference is for educational purposes only.

How do I dispose of my used electronic equipment?

Storage and Disposal
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Resources and Regulation

Resources and Regulations

DEQ Regulations*

More Resources

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