Do "electronics recyclers" only take computers?
It depends. Some take only new computers. Some take "anything with a cord."

What happens to my computer when I send it to an electronics recycler?
Electronics recyclers perform three major functions:

  1. Repair and Resale: Includes domestic sales and export sales.
  2. Scrap: A certain percent of collected material has a value as scrap (aluminum, steel, copper, plastic, etc.). The remainder is dealt with as refuse.
  3. Data Security: Many people are concerned about the information on their hard drives. Most processors offer data destruction, however some specialize in data destruction.

Why should I worry about which recycler I send my material to?
Fact: there are toxic chemicals and heavy metals in computers and other electronics.

A strong resale market overseas means that it is possible for recyclers in the U.S. to simply ship all of the material they receive to overseas companies. These overseas companies perform the same functions as those in the U.S. with two main differences:

  1. They have cheaper labor and more technical knowledge.
  2. Many of them are located in non-OECD countries and are often subject to fewer, or less strict, environmental or workers rights laws.

The problem with shipping "everything" overseas is that some of it is not appropriate for resale or reuse. Exporting resalable material is very different than exporting trash. WR3A believes that exports are a necessary part of the recycling industry, however we advocate for a "fair trade" approach in which US processors ship only items for which there is either demand, or an environmentally appropriate end of life solution. To see more on this issue please go to www.wr3a.org.

How do I get my business certified?
You don't. We certify transactions, not business. For comparison, the EPA certifies that bottled water is clean. It does not declare a company a "clean water producer." What you can do is either become a WR3A member, or simply meet as many of our standards as you can.

Do you certify every transaction?
No. WR3A recognizes that not all transactions need to be monitored. For instance, a small lot of computers less than 5 years old poses little threat to the environment. On the other hand a municipal curbside pickup program that generates 50 tons of mixed electronics a month requires careful consideration.

What assurance do I have that my material is being dealt with appropriately?
WR3A's standards are available on our website. We strive to make this process as transparent as possible. Any processor listed as a WR3A member has been audited and meets standards that can be found on our website (www.wr3a.org). Our contracts are comprehensive and are enforceable by civil law.

How does the matching service work?
WR3A's certification program generates a list of recyclers (who have stored information on the system) based upon the user's specific needs.

The list is generated based on two kinds of criteria.

Hidden Criteria: these are based on processor attributes and tend to be more objective in nature.

Chosen Criteria: these are options you as the user can manipulate. They are more subjective in nature and include descriptive "info boxes."

How are the Hidden Criteria formulated? They are based largely on WR3A standards such as the "CRT Glass Test" or "Capacity Test." As the tool evolves, we will attempt to make it "open source" giving industry experts and users the chance to make it as relevant and helpful as possible. Where can I find out more about electronics recycling? Our website contains links to several relevant articles and organizations.