What do I do with this?

A guide to disposing of electronics and hazardous materials

Posted on Oct 29, 2019 :: Partner
Posted by Chad Hayes, chief technology officer & director of e-recycling, Sadoff E-Recycling & Data Destruction

Disposing of electronics such as computers, audio/visual equipment, batteries and printers — items that may contain hazardous materials — is no easy feat. It’s hard to know what to do with them, and improperly disposing of them can come with legal ramifications and hefty fines, particularly for businesses and large organizations.

So, what kinds of materials are considered hazardous, should be recycled or require special disposal? And where do you go to take care of it all?

Electronics, CDs/DVDs and electrical equipment
TVs, computers and phones contain dangerous materials and should be properly recycled, but they tend to pile up in closets, basements or landfills anyway. And, since smaller electronics like cords, CDs or USB drives are so easy to throw out, we don’t always think to recycle them. However, these items still pose dangers to the environment — the metal used in cords, for example, can leach into the soil.

Many of these electronics also pose significant security risks for your data if they go missing, are improperly disposed of or fall into the wrong hands. One way to make sure your data is secure is to work with a recycler who provides secure data destruction and assumes liability for data breaches.

Batteries and flammable materials
Car and other types of batteries contain highly dangerous materials, lead and acid among them, which are poisonous if ingested and can cause permanent damage including burns and blindness. Take batteries to a hazardous materials recovery facility or a recycler that accepts non-ferrous materials.

Lightbulbs should not simply be tossed in the trash, particularly those containing mercury or halogen. Since those materials are dangerous if released, many recycling facilities aren’t able to accept them. You should take lightbulbs to a hazardous material recovery facility for processing and proper disposal. If you have a business, seek out a waste management or recycling partner that accepts large amounts of lightbulbs or offers bulk pickup or mailback options.

First steps
With the variety of hazardous materials out there and the ever-increasing amount of electronics, a good first step is to consult with a trusted recycler about where to take items you can’t throw away. A true partner will help you identify ways to meet sustainability goals and ensure secure data destruction.


Chad Hayes is the chief technology officer and director of e-recycling at Sadoff E-Recycling & Destruction. He joined Sadoff Iron and Metal in 2015, where he oversees and leads the strategic planning and implementation of IT. With his 20 years of IT and business leadership experience and passion for data security, he was the ideal choice to establish, build and lead the Sadoff E-Recycling & Data Destruction Company, a company of Sadoff Iron and Metal.  He can be reached at [email protected].