Electronic Waste Disposal


As the electronic and digital computing markets continue to expand and gain in popularity worldwide, the volume of electronic equipment being generated and consumed is also rising at alarming rates. So too is the need for secure and environmentally sound methods of electronic waste disposal or e-waste disposal.

When the service life of consumable items in these sectors expires, device and hardware owners must then face the dilemma of how to dispose of electronics: Sell? Recycle? Or just throw them away?

While the throw-away and recycling options for electronic disposal often have the advantage in terms of speed and convenience for the owner, the types of materials they’re discarding or recycling can throw up the issue of e-waste and how best to manage and dispose of it.

What is Electronic Waste (E-Waste)?

Electronic waste consists of materials and products containing substances that can damage or harm health or the environment. Examples include asbestos, lead, mercury, needles, blood, Biological or Bio-Waste, and hazardous waste materials, making e-waste disposal a sometimes problematic process.

Since many such substances are used in the manufacture and operation of computing and electronic equipment, e-waste is often taken as synonymous with Electronic waste. This type of e-waste typically contains toxic and hazardous materials such as lead, mercury, chromium, and chemical flame retardants — all of which have the potential to make their way into soils and water supplies, damaging human habitats and natural ecosystems. So proper electronic disposal typically requires special locations or techniques.

Best Practices used in the Disposal of E-Waste
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What is E-Waste Disposal?

Electronic waste disposal is the discipline and industry that focuses on secure and environmentally sensitive methods to dispose of electronic equipment, components, and waste materials at the end of their active service lives.

The current volume of e-waste that can be properly recycled only accounts for a small proportion of the total volume of e-waste generated worldwide each year. Disposing of these materials is both a major task and a growth industry. In fact, the global e-waste disposal market was valued at US $9408.2 million in 2019 and is expected to reach US $19070 million by the end of 2027, growing at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 10.5% from 2021 to 2027.

This level of growth is largely because the cost of processing and recycling e-waste is reducing, while the profit margins of authorized E-waste recycling enterprises are increasing. In response to this expansion in the e-waste disposal sector, growing numbers of governments are beginning to draft laws or enact more stringent measures to restrict the incineration or landfill dumping of e-waste and stamp out undocumented outlets e-waste recycling.

How to Dispose of Electronics – Methods of E-Waste Disposal

Let’s now consider how to dispose of electronics. It’s reckoned that in excess of 130 million mobile phones and 3 million tons of electronic equipment such as TV sets, computers, and laptops are discarded each year. That’s a lot of material — and there are several techniques that e-waste disposal services can call upon to deal with it. They include:


Organizations or individuals looking for where to dispose of old electronics often turn to landfills. To create a landfill for e-waste disposal, excavators dig out an area of soil and lay trenches to bury waste material. E-waste transported on vehicles lined with an impervious layer of clay or plastic is dumped in the landfill trenches, whose final surface may be bulldozed level or sealed with a concrete mixture.

Generally speaking, landfills are one of the e-waste disposal methods that's not environmentally friendly. Toxic substances such as mercury, lead, and cadmium can readily escape from them into the surrounding soil or water.

Incineration or Burning

Here, specially constructed incinerators are employed to destroy electronic and other e-waste materials by burning or melting at very high temperatures. This process generally reduces the waste to a fraction of its initial volume while generating heat energy that may be converted for use in other applications. Again, this is one of the e-waste disposal techniques that can be problematic as, occasionally, the incineration processes release harmful gases into the atmosphere and surrounding environment.

Acid Baths or Acid Immersion

Particularly for e-waste containing electronic circuitry, immersion in a large vessel containing a strong solution of hydrochloric, sulfuric, or nitric acid is an efficient and economical method of disposal. For example, this method may be employed by data destruction services in hard drive destruction.

These acid solutions generally free any metals in the hardware from the underlying circuitry, making them available for reclamation. Metals reclaimed in this manner may then be used to manufacture other items.


People searching for how to dispose of old electronics in a sustainable and environmentally responsible manner often turn to recycling. This is a sequential process of dismantling electronic devices, separating out the parts containing hazardous substances, then recovering valuable or usable metals from their parts and circuitry.

For many enterprises, recycling is the best way to destroy a hard drive or other IT equipment while staying in line with corporate sustainability and responsibility (CSR) objectives.

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Where to Discard Electronic Goods?

If you’re looking to dispose of Electronic or Environmental waste, there are usually two options: You can transport the items to a designated electronic waste facility yourself or hire a professional e-waste disposal service. To a greater or lesser extent, in either case, you’ll need to locate a suitable facility, identify whether the facility is suitable for your kind of e-waste, and get the e-waste to that site.

Locating Electronic Waste Disposal Centers can be as simple as running a Google search then performing due diligence. In the US, resources like the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) directory can help in refining your search and drilling down to the websites of individual facilities on the list.

IT Equipment Disposal​
Public disposal facilities will typically prohibit the dumping of certain kinds of waste — and you’ll need to find out what kinds of e-waste material that a particular drop-off site is willing to accept. Some e-waste disposal services may be prepared to deal with materials that a public site would reject. And if using multiple drop-off sites to handle a diverse volume of waste materials is unavoidable, the disposal service should have a partnership network of disposal facilities that can accommodate everything.

There are large numbers of independent e-waste recycling companies currently in operation offering electronic equipment disposal. Manufacturers, retailers, and other organizations also run various recycling schemes, some of which offer monetary or other benefits to individuals or businesses that participate in them.

If you think of recycling as an option for your old electronics disposal, keep data security in mind, remember to remove every hard drive before recycling computer equipment, and erase each hard drive before recycling.
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Legal Considerations

In terms of public law, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) establishes the framework for the proper management of hazardous and non-hazardous solid waste. Regulations governing hazardous waste identification, classification, generation, management, and disposal are contained in title 40 CFR parts 260 through 273.

Substances defined as hazardous under 49 CFR 172-173 by the Research and Special Programs Administration (RSPA) are subject to special regulations regarding their packaging and transportation. All transporters of e-waste are subject to enforcement of these regulations by both the Department Of Transportation (DOT) and the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA).

Under US law, individual states are also authorized to administer and enforce their own hazardous waste programs — as long as these regulations are consistent with the federal programs and at least as strict as all the relevant federal statutes.
RCRA prohibits sending hazardous waste to developing countries without their “prior informed consent”, and the Environmental Protection Agency prescribes a set of protocols to follow before you can obtain this agreement. However, these export rules no longer apply to products that are being exported “for recycling.” At the federal level, the CRT regulations restrict e-waste exports from occurring by any channel.

In transporting the e-waste, you’ll need to observe any state and federal statutes governing the nature of the material itself or limiting the amount of it that you can shift at one time. If you’re unsure how to comply or have a large of volume of material to move, an e-waste disposal service is probably your best option.

Advantages of Disposing Electronic Waste

Electronic waste disposal can provide a number of benefits — both for equipment and device owners and for the world at large.

For individuals and organizations, electronic waste destruction, when properly implemented using data wiping and comprehensive physical destruction methods, enhances information security and reduces the risk of sensitive information such as passwords, personal health data, financial data, and intellectual property falling into the hands of third parties who can recover it from hard drives and storage media.

E-waste removal and recycling can benefit the environment by reducing the amount of toxic chemical substances, hazardous materials, and other pollutants that would otherwise be dumped in landfill sites and threaten soils, water, and nearby ecosystems.

Electronic disposal through recycling also conserves natural resources by putting back useful materials into the production and reuse process cycles and eliminating the need to source fresh raw materials for many manufacturing streams. This helps create a sustainable and circular economy that also benefits organizations who recycle by contributing to their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) profile and standing on environmental consciousness.

E-Waste Disposal Best Practices

In all situations with e-waste and IT equipment disposal, you’ll need to consider the risk and potential consequences to you or your organization of someone gaining unauthorized access to your data. Data recovery technologies are now sophisticated enough to reconstruct information from hardware treated with data-wiping software or HDD shredder applications.

Ideally, you should remove data from the hard drive and destroy the old hard drive and digital storage media before disposal. An e-waste disposal company that also offers a hard drive destruction service can help in resolving this issue.

Identifying and dealing with potentially hazardous materials is an activity best left to the professionals. A certified e-waste disposal service should assist you in establishing what kinds of materials you can safely dispose of on your own and which substances or items require legally mandated hazardous waste disposal techniques.

In terms of consumer electronics disposal, equipment owners can reduce the volume of e-waste by seeking out and buying environmentally friendly products, such as those labeled Energy Star or certified by the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT).

What to Look for in an E-Waste Disposal Service

A comprehensive e-waste disposal service should provide options for data sanitization (remove data from the hard drive and other storage media) and techniques to dispose of hard drives securely before safe and environmentally sound disposal.

The service should also provide Chain of Custody monitoring for documentation of the handling of your material at all stages and a formalized certificate of hard drive destruction for each storage device that they process. This will enable you to keep in line with all of your organization’s data privacy and regulatory compliance obligations.

At TechReset, we do more than just unwanted computer recycling. We specialize in the safe and proper disposal of electronic waste (e-waste) and guarantee secure data wipes or destruction of your confidential data to your needs in a timely fashion, and we have the resources to handle jobs of any size or complexity. We go beyond computer recycling or e-waste to ensure the least environmental impact possible while helping put money back in your pocket.