Guidance for Businesses, Institutions and Government
How Used Electronic Equipment is Regulated in New York State
The NYSDEC is in the process of developing a rulemaking that will amend regulations to streamline the management of used electronic equipment. Please check the following webpage, "Proposed Used Electronic Equipment Rulemaking" periodically, as this rulemaking may change the following requirements for non-household generators of used electronic equipment.
The following information outlines the proper management of used electronic equipment by entities other than households (non-household generators) in New York State. Examples of non-household generators include businesses, institutions, industries, schools, colleges, government organizations, and non-profit organizations, etc.
Where Can My Business or Institution Recycle Used Electronic Equipment?
Non-households in New York State are strongly encouraged to recycle all used electronic equipment and can contact a listed dismantling/recycling facility to manage the type of used electronic equipment they wish to recycle. Also, if your business or institution is purchasing replacement equipment, the supplier of the new equipment might take back your old equipment as part of the purchase contract.
When is Used Electronic Equipment Considered Waste?
Working used electronic equipment that is directly sold or donated for reuse is not considered to be discarded, and thus, is not a waste and is not subject to solid or hazardous waste regulations (i.e., they are still products). If used electronic equipment is donated, documentation should be obtained from the recipient accepting the donated equipment for reuse, so that the donor can demonstrate that used computer equipment was not improperly disposed.
Most businesses and institutions that generate used electronic equipment do not know if their equipment will be reused, resold, recycled, or dismantled. Handling the used electronic equipment as potential solid and hazardous waste will keep your business or institution in compliance.
Nonworking used electronic equipment that is serviced by repair shops, repaired, and then returned to the user is not considered to be waste. All other nonworking electronic equipment is subject to solid or hazardous waste regulations. If this nonworking electronic equipment is dismantled and some individual part (e.g., disk drive) is found to be operative, and is to be reused or marketed for reuse, such part is considered to be a product reclaimed from waste and, therefore, no longer solid or hazardous waste.
Used electronic equipment that is sold for its scrap value is also subject to NYSDEC solid and hazardous waste regulations.
Used Electronic Equipment Management Options for Businesses, Institutions and Government
NYSDEC Hazardous Waste Regulations
Some used electronic equipment qualifies as hazardous waste under NYSDEC's RCRA hazardous waste regulations. A requirement of the hazardous waste regulations is that generators of potential hazardous wastes must determine through testing or through knowledge whether their potential hazardous waste is a hazardous waste. In practice, testing used electronics to determine whether they are hazardous wastes is complex, and rarely performed. In New York State, most handlers do not test or have documentation that shows whether their used electronic equipment are hazardous wastes or not, but instead assume they are hazardous and handle their used electronics through use of the scrap metal exemption. This is an acceptable practice. Non-household generators of this equipment must either manage the equipment under full hazardous waste regulation, or, if they qualify, submit an exemption notification from such hazardous waste regulations.
Full Hazardous Waste Regulation
Used electronic equipment may be handled through ordinary hazardous waste regulations, 6 NYCRR Parts 370-374 and 376. Generators who choose this option typically do so because:
- the electronic equipment they have is not recyclable;
- receiving state regulations may be different from New York State's;
- or because of long-term liability concerns (the ordinary hazardous waste regulations provide an ability to track the wastes to the ultimate disposal facility, through the hazardous waste manifest system).
The "c7" Scrap Metal Exemption Notification for Generators of Used Electronic Equipment
Also available to non-household generators of used electronic equipment is an exemption from managing used electronic equipment as hazardous waste when used electronic equipment will ultimately be recycled. Most used electronic equipment which would qualify as RCRA hazardous waste are considered to contain sufficient quantities of scrap metal parts that they can be regarded as scrap metal themselves, and, thus, would be exempted from regulation as hazardous waste if the following conditions are met:
- Scrap metal must ultimately be recycled: The scrap metal exemption requires that scrap metal pieces actually be reclaimed from the electronic equipment and recycled.
Note that the scrap metal exemption cannot apply to a part separated from the whole component unless that separated part independently contains scrap metal pieces that will ultimately be reclaimed. For example, an all-plastic case that was separated from a computer monitor could no longer qualify for the scrap metal exemption. CRT glass, once the scrap metal pieces have been separated from the glass may be regulated as hazardous waste. Note also that an item which qualifies as hazardous scrap metal is still a hazardous waste. It is merely exempted from regulation.
- Prior Notification [6NYCRR 371.1(c)(7)] (link leaves DEC's website): Most generators and subsequent handlers in New York State are required to submit notification to the NYSDEC prior to shipping, providing certain basic information such as the locations of generating and receiving facilities. A sample notification form (PDF) (16.7 KB) for scrap metal is available, it should be completed and sent to the address indicated on the form. Conditionally exempt small quantity generators (CESQGs) are not required to submit a notification claiming the scrap metal exemption unless it is necessary in order to qualify as a CESQG (see 6NYCRR 371.1(f)(3)(i) and 371.1(g)(1)(iii)('b')). When the weight of the used electronic equipment plus the weight of other hazardous wastes generated or accumulated at the site exceeds CESQG limits, prior notification is required.
Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generators (CESQGs)
The weight of used electronic equipment considered to be hazardous waste must be counted in determining generator category unless the used electronic equipment is handled under the above-mentioned Scrap Metal Exemption.
Used electronic equipment generators that are CESQGs when the weight of electronic wastes are included, may have additional recycling outlets. Although the CESQG exemption allows disposal at a solid waste disposal facility such as a municipal landfill, many solid waste facilities ban some or all used electronic equipment. A growing number of counties, towns and cities are collecting used electronics items from CESQGs. Some communities require that all non-households file a c7 notification with the DEC; others have CESQGs certify their status (such as through a form). Some communities cannot accept non-household used electronic equipment, even from CESQGs.
Solid Waste Disposal
Although recycling is the preferred alternative for all used electronic equipment, units that are not hazardous waste or which do not contain mercury may, at this time, be managed as ordinary solid waste, if acceptable to the individual receiving facility. A growing number of municipalities and community groups collect used electronic equipment for recycling. This may be an alternative to solid waste disposal.
Used Electronic Equipment Proper Handling Practices
- Used electronic equipment must be kept out of the weather and secure.
- Appropriate steps should be taken to minimize and avoid breakage. Broken equipment could cause a release of a hazardous substance to the environment and must be properly cleaned up. A hazardous waste determination is required for broken equipment and contaminated environmental media.
- In the rare event that your business or institution plans to export Cathode Ray Tubes (CRTs) directly, you must comply with USEPA's CRT Export Provisions. More information on this requirement can be found on NYSDEC's Guidance for Collectors, Dismantlers, and Recyclers page.