Frequently asked questions

What items are considered to be "electronics"?

Televisions and monitors, computers and computer peripherals, audio and stereo equipment, VCRs, DVD players, video cameras, telephones, fax and copying machines, cellular phones, wireless devices, and video game consoles are primary examples of "electronics."

Why prevent electronics from entering the landfill?

Some components of these electronic devices may contain constituents that if improperly handled could be harmful to the environment. Certain components may contain small amounts of RCRA regulated heavy metals, including lead, silver, barium, cadmium and mercury. Many of these metals can be recovered and recycled by de-manufacturing and recycling of electronic devices.

What are the regulations concerning electronics disposal for businesses?

It is the generator's responsibility to determine if his waste meets the criteria established for hazardous waste, and if so, the generator will bear sole responsibility for the proper management of this material. EPA has proposed that electronics destined for recycling be managed under the Universal Waste provisions of its regulations.  EPA must be notified by any entity that proposes exporting computer monitors (CRTs) in order to verify that such shipments are allowed by the destination company.

What are the regulations concerning recyclers, refurbishers or dismantlers?

Under Virginia's current regulatory applications, e-waste devices that are managed as commercial products for rebuilding, reuse, or remanufacture by component substitution or replacement rather than disposal would not be considered waste under RCRA. However, if the units are broken apart or disassembled ("demanufactured") into individual components, unit subsystems, or discrete component devices (e.g. capacitors, batteries, transformers, relays, switches, CRTs, motherboards, frame components, etc.), RCRA issues will have to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Any waste components or subassemblies subsequently generated and disposed of will require evaluation under the TCLP criteria and should be managed accordingly. Management of e-waste may also be subject to regulation under the Virginia Solid Waste Management Regulations under certain conditions applicable to MRFs. This is an evolving area of the regulations and changes are expected during the next year. Information will be included and updated on this site, as it becomes available.

What can I do to help minimize the electronics disposal problem?

Before deciding to dispose of your electronics determine if:

  • The product can be upgraded for further use. (Contact the manufacturer or retailer.)
  • The product can be donated for further use. (Contact local charities, non-profits, local governments and schools.)

After deciding to dispose of your electronics, determine if:

  • The product can be recycled through programs in your area. (Contact your local recycling coordinator, manufacturer or retailer.)
  • The product can be disposed of properly in your area. (Contact your local public administrator or waste collection firm.)

Where can I get more information about computer and electronics recycling?

You may get additional information by:

  • Contacting your locality's Litter Prevention and Recycling Program Coordinator for area specific information;
  • Checking out the various resource links provided on this web site;
  • Visit the various manufacturer web sites for information on take back programs, or retailer take back partnerships; and by,
  • Contacting DEQ Staff (804-698-4193 or sanjay.thirunagari@deq.virginia.gov).  

Why reuse or recycle outdated computer and electronic equipment?

The EPA estimates that:

  • Recycling one million laptops saves the energy equivalent to the electricity used by more than 3,500 US homes in a year.
  • For every million cell phones we recycle, 35 thousand pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold and 33 pounds of palladium can be recovered.

Why reuse or recycle wireless phones?

In general, a wireless phone handset consists of 40% metals, 40% plastics, and 20% ceramics and other trace metals. Wireless device chargers can be recycled to recover copper. Wireless handsets can be recycled to recover plastics. Circuit boards can be recycled to recover precious metals such as gold, silver and palladium and other materials such as copper, lead, and zinc. Accessory devices, including the headsets, power packs, and clips can also be recycled. Batteries can be recycled for their nickel, iron, cadmium, lead and cobalt.

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Virginia Department of
Environmental Quality
P.O. Box 1105
Richmond, VA 23218
(804) 698-4000


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