E-waste FAQ

Why should I recycle my old electronics?

What happens to the computers that people bring to events?

Is my personal information on my computer safe? Do I have to delete the hard drive?

What can I bring?

What do I do with household batteries?

Is there a limit to how much I can bring?

Do you offer pick-ups?

Can I take used items at the recycling events?

Can I receive a tax deduction for donating my computer equipment?

How can I have an Electronics Recycling event in my neighborhood?

 

Why should I recycle my old electronics?

According to the E.P.A., electronic waste contributes 70% of the toxins found in landfills, while only contributing 1% of the volume of materials in landfills. Electronic waste contains many toxic materials including lead, mercury, cadmium, phosphors and flame-retardants. Recycling your electronics waste decreases energy and water use, reduces pollution, and keeps hazardous chemicals out of our air and water.

A recently passed law makes it illegal for New York State residents to dispose of electronic items, starting January 1, 2015.

For more information see the Electronics Equipment Recycling and Reuse Act.

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What happens to the computers and other equipment that people bring to events?
All of the equipment dropped off during our events is sorted and packed by Ecology Center staff and transported to our E-waste Warehouse in Brooklyn. Newer items are tested and refurbished and then sold to the public to support our program and promote local reuse. The majority of the items we collect are either not working or too obsolete to be reused. These items are consolidated with electronics dropped off at the warehouse and are sent to certified electronic equipment manufacturers. By running our own events and consolidating the equipment at the E-waste Warehouse, we have been able to create green jobs in NYC and to reduce the truck miles in order to collect electronic equipment for proper recycling.

We are currently working with two electronic equipment manufacturers: WeRecycle! LLC and Sims Recycling Solutions.  WeRecycle! LLC is an e-steward certified recycler and their recycling facility is located in Mt. Vernon, New York. Sims Recycling Solutions is an R2 certified recycler and is also the world's largest recycler of electronic waste. Their main electronic equipment processing facility is located outside Chicago.

Both the R2 and e-steward standards require that recyclers process all of the collected material domestically and responsibly. Material outputs of the recycler’s process include high quality commodities such as various grades of metal and plastic. Hazardous materials and components are handled at facilities in the US or other developed countries that are fully vetted and audited by the company. For example, the recyclers we work with will dismantle CRT TVs and monitors, recycle the commodities (plastic housing, wiring, and boards), and send the CRT tubes to another company. That company removes the panel, which is not leaded, from the leaded glass. Their process then prepares the non-leaded glass to be beneficially reused domestically, while the leaded glass is exported for recycling.

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What happens to the data on my hard drive? Do I have to delete the hard drive?
Newer computers may be tested for reuse by the Ecology Center's in-house technicians. If a computer passes our initial testing phase, we will wipe that computer's hard drive and then run it through the rest of our tests. If it passes all tests, we will sell it in our reuse store. Computers that are too old or too broken to be reused will have their data destroyed by the recyclers we work with. We only work with recyclers that are able to keep the electronics secure during transportation and processing and will destroy the personal information and data on the items they receive, most commonly by shredding the hard drives.

While it is not necessary to wipe your hard drive, you can do your own data removal by using Kill Disk or Darik's Boot and Nuke, both programs are free.

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What can I bring?

We accept the following working and non-working equipment:

• Computers (laptops & desktops, servers, mainframes)
• Monitors
• Printers, scanners, fax-machines, copiers
• Network devices (routers, hubs, modems, etc.)
• Peripherals (keyboards, mice, cables, cords, chargers, etc.)
• Tablets and E-readers
• Components (hard drives, CD-ROMs, circuit boards, power supplies, etc.)
• TVs, VCRs, DVRs, & DVD Players
• Digital Converter Boxes, Cable/Satellite Receivers
• Portable music players
• Audio-visual equipment
• Video-games
• Cell phones, pagers, PDAs
• Telecommunication (phones, answering machines, etc.)

We cannot accept home appliances such as microwaves, refrigerators, or air conditioners and we also cannot accept ionization smoke detectors or carbon monoxide detectors (those that are labeled as containing radioactive material). For information on how to dispose of these items, click linked item.

Please note: To recycle media, such as disks, CDs, and VHS tapes please recycle with Green Disk. We can also accept media but suggest a donation of $.50 per item to cover our disposal costs.

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What do I do with household batteries?

We accept batteries, but ask that you please separate alkaline and rechargeable batteries and either tape the terminals of rechargable batteries or pack them individually in plastic bags.

Another option is to bring household batteries to any New York City Department of Sanitation Self-Help Special Waste Drop-Off Site. There is one drop-off site in each borough. Additionally, it is illegal to throw rechargeable batteries in the trash. All NYC stores that sell rechargeable batteries must take back rechargeable batteries. 

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Is there a limit to how much I can bring?
No, but we only accept materials from households, not-for-profit organizations, schools, and small businesses. If dropping off a large amount of equipment at an event, please try to come within the first 3 hours of the event.

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Do you offer pick-ups?
Unfortunately, we are not able to make pickups. We would like to suggest that you ask family and friends with cars for help. We have also seen people with vehicles organize their building by offering to transport computers from their neighbors to an event along with their own computers.

The next best thing to pick-up is to ship your computer back to the manufacturers. This service is offered by some computer manufacturers.

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Can I take used items at the recycling events?
No. The collection events are not swap meets, they are for drop-off only. If you would like to purchase a reused item, please visit the reuse store in the E-waste Warehouse.

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Can I receive a tax deduction for donating my computer equipment?
Yes. Please ask one of our staff about getting a tax deduction form when you drop off you e-waste.

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How can I have an Electronics Recycling event in my neighborhood?

In order to make e-waste recycling accessible and convenient to New York City residents, the Ecology Center works with community partners to hold events in a variety of neighborhoods. If you would like to bring an electronics recycling event to your community, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 212-477-4022.

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