December 15, 2017

Holiday Season in a Circular Economy

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Holiday season isn’t just the busiest time of year for purchasing new electronics, it's also when consumers throw away more items than any other time of year.  According to the EPA, “The volume of household waste in the United States generally increases 25 percent between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day – about 1 million extra tons.” And while that’s a staggering number, it’s even more shocking to learn that only 20 percent of all e-waste generated last year was properly recycled! So where did the other 80 percent of e-waste go? Raise your hand if you have a closet or drawer full of old devices.

Many of us do. Individually it may not seem like a lot, but the EPA once estimated that there were over 99 million TVs stockpiled or stored in the US alone.  Just televisions. If we were to include computers, cell phones, gaming systems, and other electronics - that number would be unfathomable. 

So how can we responsibly dispose of old electronic devices?

There are currently 25 states that have enacted legislation establishing a statewide electronic waste, or e-waste, recycling program. To find a local recycler click here.  If your state doesn’t currently offer these services, don’t fret! There are many retailers like Best Buy that provide electronic take-back programs. These types of programs are generally offered at little to no cost for consumers.

Due to the sensitive nature of modern electronics and the data contained on many items, it is important that you research and only recycle with vetted recycling providers. This is a very important factor when it comes to the next step in the lifecycle of the item you’ve now disposed of. 

What’s Next for my recycled electronics?

If you have chosen to dispose of your electronics with a quality recycler, they will generally partner with a processor such as ECS, who will evaluate your device to determine if it can be repaired or if it has reached the end of its useful life. If your item can be repaired it will be fully refurbished including complete data wiping, and necessary services to restore the item to peak performance before it is remarketed. If your item cannot be repaired, working parts may be refurbished before re-entering the market. All other remnants of your electronic device will be separated and processed down to raw materials that are then used in the creation of new electronics. Working with ECS, all of this will be completed domestically, ensuring no items are exported to third world countries.

Who knows, maybe the item you recycle today will come back to you as next year’s hottest new device!  


As a leader in IT asset management and end-of-life electronics processing, ECS Refining provides a broad spectrum of solutions that enable OEMs, retailers, enterprises, and e-waste collectors to manage, disposition, and recover value from electronic devices while protecting sensitive data and mitigating downstream liability.