Are You Disposing Your Office E-waste Safely?

Manage your electronic waste the right way

office e-waste


Trash indeed has gone high-tech in the modern workplace. Alongside dirty coffee cups and used Post-it notes, offices everywhere are littered with unwanted electronics. This growing electronic waste (also commonly called e-waste or e-scrap) cannot be disposed of in the same way as other waste materials. They can pose potential severe harm to the environment and to public health.

Meaningful resolutions to this critical issue require a system-wide overhaul. Meanwhile, offices can tackle this problem head-on to maintain their own environmental sustainability goals. Here are a few things to consider when building your own office e-waste management strategy.

What counts as office e-waste?

E-waste refers to any unwanted and non-functioning electronic items. Common examples include equipment such as computers, phones, printers, copiers, fax machines, stereos, keyboards and monitors. This also frequently includes auxiliary supplies like batteries, ink cartridges, CDs and cables.

E-waste in turn is steadily rising. A 2020 United Nations report shows a record 53.6 million metric tonnes (Mt) of electronic waste were produced worldwide in 2019. This marks a 21% increase in just five years. The report also predicts global waste will increase to 74 Mt by 2030. Offices are a major contributor to this e-waste boom.

Why is e-waste harmful?

Electronics en masse are non-biodegradable. More dangerously, electronics can leach harmful chemicals like lead, mercury, beryllium, thallium and arsenic into the surrounding environment. Exposure to these pollutants can lead to higher rates of cancers and neurological damage.

How should you manage e-waste?

To curb e-waste in your facility, consider donating functioning electronics to local groups in need like schools and nonprofits. For unrepairable electronics, recycling is the best option. Third-party recyclers are equipped to safely disassemble them. They can also extract valuable raw materials needed to produce electronics, such as copper, gold, silver, palladium, and rare earth minerals like neodymium. Sourcing these materials from recycling in turn reduces the need for mining these materials.

How do you recycle office e-waste?

  • Collect: Educate your occupants on the importance of recycling e-waste, and provide convenient disposal areas to collect electronics.
  • Prepare: Advise occupants to delete any personal data and remove batteries from devices.
  • Recycle: Search for an electronic recycling program near you. Retailers and manufacturers may offer buy back programs for select products. Third-party recycling providers also offer options for e-waste. You can find a provider near you through databases like Earth911 and Call2Recycle. Local city and county sanitation departments may also provide e-waste disposal centers, though collection varies by location. In Palm Beach County, for example, businesses can contact the Solid Waste Authority for disposal options. Most public programs will require you to drop off electronics yourself on site. Sparkleteam, however, can coordinate e-waste drop-off services for your facility.