“Why do I have to pay to recycle my electronics? Shouldn’t it be a free service…or at least included in my regular recycling fees?”
This is one of the most common questions we hear in our industry. And we understand that it can feel frustrating to pay extra fees to recycle your electronics, especially if you’re used to having all your other household or business recycling picked up for a single fee (or, in some areas, even getting paid for recycling certain materials!).
But the truth is, responsible electronics recycling requires different facilities, equipment, processes, and expertise than other recyclables require.
Whether you’re an individual needing to recycle your old household electronics or a business utilizing an IT Asset Disposition (ITAD) program to recycle your assets, there will be fees associated with those services. Let’s go over why we charge those fees as well as why it’s so important to properly recycle your used electronics with a certified recycler.
The Growing Need for Electronics Recycling
You might be thinking, “Why should I bother to pay to recycle my electronics? Why not just toss them in the garbage?”
All the electronic devices we use in our daily lives—from TVs to computers to cell phones and more—contain hazardous materials like lead, mercury, cadmium, and flame retardants. Recycling helps keep those materials out of landfills, and, in turn, out of our soil, air, and water.
According to the UN’s Global E-waste Monitor 2020, in 2019 the world generated a record 53.6 million metric tons (Mt) of electronic waste…up 21 percent in only five years! And they predict that global e-waste will reach 74 Mt by 2030.
E-waste is, in fact, the world’s fastest-growing domestic waste stream, fueled primarily by our increased consumption of electronics, short device life cycles, and minimal repair options.
What’s more, in addition to hazardous materials, electronics contain valuable metals like gold, silver, copper, and platinum…which can be recovered and used to build new products.
Only 17.4 percent of e-waste was recycled in 2019. That means a huge amount of valuable, recoverable metals (conservatively valued at $57 billion) were thrown in landfills or burned instead of being collected for reuse.
Proper recycling of electronics is not only better for the environment, it has the potential to save literally billions of dollars a year.
Why Partnering With a Certified Electronics Recycler Is So Important
When you recycle your electronics, it’s vital that you do so only with a certified electronics recycler. Here’s why.
At this point the electronics recycling industry is widely unregulated. That leaves the door wide open for the improper disposal of toxic materials…not to mention the theft and misuse of vast amounts of sensitive personal and corporate data.
If you work with a recycler who isn’t certified, you never know if they’re recycling your electronics properly or if they have the right data security protections in place. To keep your sensitive information safe and ensure your electronics are recycled in an environmentally sound manner, choose an electronics recycling partner who is certified.
- R2 (Responsible Recycling) certification holds us to certain standards like proper data destruction practices, equipment tracking, and prioritizing electronics refurbishment, and it requires that we hold proper insurance and maintain legal compliance.
- ISO 14001 maps out a framework that an organization can follow to set up an effective environmental management system. This helps us provide assurance to company management, employees, and customers alike that our environmental impact is being measured and improved upon.
- ISO 45001 is the highest standard for occupational health and safety (OH&S). It has become one of the most eagerly awaited standards in the world, and is set to drastically improve levels of workplace safety.
In addition, Homeboy is also a Certified B Corporation. Here’s what that means:
People and the planet matter. Certified B Corporations are businesses that meet the highest standards in verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.
As a B Corp, we use profits and growth as a means to a greater end: positive impact for employees, creation of high quality jobs with dignity and purpose, and positive environmental impact.
Why Does It Cost Money To Recycle Electronics?
There are a number of costs involved in the responsible recycling of electronics, including:
- Recycling equipment. As new electronics are built and their composition changes, the equipment required to break them down for recycling needs to change. Keeping our equipment up to date and well maintained can be costly.
- Hazardous materials handling equipment and supplies to protect both the people who work with them and the environment.
- Labor costs. This is often the biggest cost for electronics recyclers, and includes salaries, benefits, and training for staff.
- Certification fees for important certifications like R2 and ISO 14001. We pay fees for the initial certifications, plus we are required to run regular audits to maintain them.
- Data security. Increased use of smart devices that store or transmit personal data has expanded the need for secure data destruction, which requires specialized equipment, training, and insurance.
- Declining commodity prices. Electronics contain precious metals like steel, aluminum, copper, and gold. In the past, recyclers could obtain enough of these metals to recoup the costs of recycling, but their value has either remained stagnant or decreased over the past 10 years or so. While some electronics can still yield materials that are valuable enough to offset the cost of recycling them, many now cost more to recycle than the recovery value they offer.
This is not a complete list of our costs, of course, but it gives you an idea of why we need to charge fees for electronics recycling.
And when you choose Homeboy to recycle your electronics, not only are you guaranteed certified recycling services that protect your data and provide stewardship for the planet, you also support our social mission to create jobs for people who face systemic barriers to finding work. (Learn more about our social impact here). It’s a win-win-win!
Start Recycling Your Electronics Today!
Whether you’re an individual or a business, we’re ready to help you recycle your electronics safely and appropriately.
- If your business is in need of ITAD services, contact us to learn more about beginning a partnership.
- If you’re an individual looking to drop off your old electronics for recycling, check out our location, hours, and a list of items we recycle here.
- Not in Southern California, and don’t have a certified recycler near you? Believe it or not, you can mail your electronics to us for recycling! Learn more about our mail-in kits here.
Whoever or wherever you are, Homeboy is here to help you with certified electronics recycling services. We look forward to serving you!