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Electronic Plug Picture by Jeff Simeon

Electronic Waste Warning

If it plugs in, charges up, or takes batteries, it can't be disposed of in your trash because it could harm you or the environment. Find out about electronics regulations.



This section shows you how to recycle old electronic devices and related items like cables, DVDs and more.

E-Waste Regulations

Oh, the fun world of regulations! In California, unwanted electronics are classified as hazardous waste when we want to get rid of them. Don't worry though; this doesn't mean they're dangerous when still being used! The problem results when electronics break or are crushed, releasing hazardous materials inside like lead and mercury. To protect the public from these potential dangers, various agencies regulate how electronics can be disposed.

Which California agencies regulate electronic waste?

The primary agency that oversees the disposal of electronics is the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC). Among other duties, DTSC staff are responsible for writing the regulatory language and for inspecting facilities that collect and/or recycle electronic waste.

California's Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) also plays an important regulatory role. With the passage of the Electronic Waste Recycling Act in 2003, CalRecycle (formerly the California Integrated Waste Management Board) became responsible for administering the state's Covered Electronic Waste Payment System.

Under this program consumers pay an upfront recycling fee when buying certain "covered" electronic products such as TVs and computer monitors. The collected fees help state-approved collectors and recyclers cover their costs to properly manage the electronics once they become waste.

What about at the federal level?

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) primarily regulates entities that generate large quantities of electronic waste (providing exemptions to households and businesses that produce only small amounts). Additionally, the EPA has special requirements for recycling and/or exporting electronic devices that contain a cathode ray tube (CRT).

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