Frequently Asked Questions
What can I bring?
We accept the following working and non-working consumer electronic equipment:
- Computers (laptops & desktops, servers, mainframes)
- Monitors (CRT and flatscreen)
- Network devices (routers, hubs, modems, etc.)
- Peripherals (keyboards, mice, cables, cords, chargers, etc.)
- Tablets and e-readers
- Components (hard drives, CD-ROMs, circuit boards, power supplies, etc.)
- TVs, VCRs, DVRs, DVD & Blu-ray Players
- Digital Converter Boxes, Cable/Satellite Receivers
- Portable music players
- Audio-visual equipment
- Cell phones, pagers, PDAs
- Telecommunication (phones, answering machines, etc.)
We cannot accept home appliances such as microwaves, refrigerators, air conditioners, or ionization smoke detectors/carbon monoxide detectors (those that are labeled as containing radioactive material). To see our recommendations of how to dispose of these items, please see the “How do I recycle household appliances?” FAQ below. There are some other e-waste items that we accept, but we do charge a recycling fee for these:
- Printers, scanners, fax-machines, copiers, etc
- Media such as CDs, DVDs, VHS tapes, and cassette tapes
- Computer battery backup systems (Uninterruptible Power Supply [UPS])
Please refer to the “Is there a fee to recycle my e-waste?” FAQ below for more information.
Is there a limit to how much I can bring?
No, there is no limit, but we only accept materials from households, not-for-profit organizations, schools, and small businesses. Furthermore, a large amount of equipment needs special preparation and services. A large amount of equipment is:
7 or more full-size items (computers / TVs / printers / video or audio pieces)
7 or more medium boxes of small-size items (cables / media / phones)
A combination of the above specifications
If you are planning to drop off a larger amount of equipment ( 7 full sized items such as computers, TVs, printers) at an event we would appreciate if you could come within the first 3 hours of the event.
Is there a fee to recycle my e-waste?
In general, we do not charge a fee for recycling e-waste. However, there are some items that are very costly to recycle. For these items we charge a small fee, which helps cover our recycling costs.
Applicable fees will be assessed when you drop off your items.
Printers, scanners, fax-machines, copiers, etc.
We do not charge a fee for small/personal size printers, scanners, or fax-machines We do charge a fee for large/office items of this category:
Full-size, stand-up copiers: $50.00 per item
Printers over 100 pounds: $30.00 per item
Computer Battery Backup Systems
We accept battery backup systems (Uninterruptible Power Supply [UPS]), and their batteries.
UPS (including battery cells): $5.00 per item
UPS battery cell (cell only): $1.50 per item
Media, such as VHS tapes, cassette tapes, CDs, and DVDs
$0.50 per pound of media items
Some estimates include: (final weighing will be performed at our facility)
Audio cassettes: ~20 in 1 pound
VHS tapes: ~5 in 1 pound
CDs / DVDs / BluRay disks (with case): ~10 in 1 pound
CDs / DVDs / BluRay disks (no case): ~40 in 1 pound
You can also recycle your media directly with a specialty recycler, such as GreenDisk.
Why should I recycle or reuse my old electronics?
E-waste is incredibly toxic to the environment, and throwing it away in regular trash ensures that heavy metals like lead, and toxic chemicals could end up in our ground water. According to the E.P.A., 70% of the toxins found in landfills come from e-waste even though it only contributes 1% of landfill volume. Some of the toxins in e-waste can include: lead, mercury, cadmium, phosphors, and flame-retardants. In addition to these serious health hazards, e-waste recycling and reuse reduces the energy and resources used up during the manufacture, transit, and sale of new electronics. By recycling, you decrease energy and water use, reduce pollution, and keep hazardous chemicals out of our air and water. Finally, it’s also required by law! In New York State, it’s illegal to throw your e-waste in the trash. You could be fined $100 for illegally discarding your electronics. For more information about the law, see the Electronics Equipment Recycling and Reuse Act.
What happens to the computers and other equipment that I dropped off?
All of the equipment dropped off is sorted and packed by Ecology Center staff. Newer items are permanently wiped of all data (if applicable), tested for functionality, and refurbished, then sold to support our program and promote local reuse. The majority of the items we collect are either not working or too obsolete to be reused. These items are sent to certified domestic electronic recyclers. We currently work with Sims Recycling Solutions, a R2 certified recycler. The R2 standard require that recyclers process all of the collected material domestically and responsibly. Material outputs of the recycler’s process include high quality commodities such as various grades of metal and plastic. Hazardous materials and components are handled at facilities in the US or other developed countries that are fully vetted and audited by the company. For example, the recyclers we work with will dismantle CRT TVs and monitors, recycle the commodities (plastic housing, wiring, and boards), and send the CRT tubes to another company. That company removes the panel, which is not leaded, from the leaded glass. Their process then prepares the non-leaded glass to be beneficially reused domestically, while the leaded glass is exported for recycling.
What happens to the data on my hard drive?
We guarantee data security in all our disposal programs. For older computers and other data storage devices like external hard drives, data will be physically shredded during the recycling process. Newer computers may be tested for reuse by the Ecology Center’s in-house technicians, and their data will be professionally wiped on-site with an electromagnet. We only work with recyclers who also guarantee data security during transportation and processing. While it is not necessary to wipe your hard drive before recycling, you can do your own data removal by using KillDisk or Darik’s Boot and Nuke, both programs are free.
Do you offer pick-ups?
Unfortunately, we do not offer e-waste pick-ups. We suggest that you ask family and friends with cars to help you bring your e-waste to our warehouse, or to our convenient neighborhood e-waste drop-off events. We have also seen people with vehicles organize their building by offering to transport computers from their neighbors to an event along with their own computers.
How do I recycle household appliances?
Most household appliances can be recycled curbside. According to DSNY, items which are mostly metal, glass, or rigid plastic can be placed at the curb for recycling with metal, glass, and plastic. For more information on what can and cannot to recycled curbside, please check the Department of Sanitation’s home page and search in the “How to get rid of…” search box.
What do I do with household batteries?
We accept batteries, but ask that you please separate alkaline and rechargeable batteries and either tape both terminals of rechargable batteries or pack them individually in plastic bags. Another option is to bring household batteries to any Department of Sanitation’s Special Waste Drop-Off Site. There is one drop-off site in each borough. It is illegal to throw rechargeable batteries in the trash. All NYC stores that sell rechargeable batteries must take back rechargeable batteries.
Can I take used items at recycling events?
No. The collection events are not swap meets, they are for drop-off only. If you would like to purchase a reused item, please visit the Reuse Store in our Gowanus E-waste Warehouse.
Can I receive a tax deduction for donating my computer equipment?
Yes. Please ask one of our staff about getting a tax deduction form when you drop off your e-waste.
How can I get an e-waste recycling event in my neighborhood?
In order to make e-waste recycling accessible and convenient to New York City residents, we work with community partners to hold events in a variety of neighborhoods. If you would like to bring an electronics recycling event to your community, please contact us at email@example.com or 212.477.4022.