The world generates over 50 million tonnes of electronic waste (e-waste) each year. But worldwide, we're recycling just 12.5% of the e-waste we generate, and no country in the world recycles even half of its e-waste. When e-waste ends up in the trash, it can harm water and wildlife.
For instance, in the Korle Lagoon near an illegal e-waste dump site, copper was found at 66 times the safety threshold. Copper is toxic to many invertebrates and can damage gills, kidneys, and other organs of most fish. People living in areas with high e-waste dumping have heavy metals in their bodies at rates that indicate susceptibility to cancers, neurodevelopmental disorders, thyroid dysfunction, and DNA damage.
Repair is better than recycling, for reducing the amount of e-waste we generate and for conserving the materials and energy that go into electronics manufacturing. Keeping our phones an additional year on average would be the carbon equivalent of taking 636,000 cars off the road.
But repair still makes e-waste, in the form of cracked screens and dead batteries. Those dead parts should go to an electronics recycler, not be put in the trash.
Give Your E-Waste to a Certified Recycler
Electronics recyclers can recover many of the materials inside electronics. There is 100 times as much gold in a ton of cell phones as in a ton of gold ore.
A lot of big box stores take back e-waste, but beware: Several of them have faced lawsuits for improperly disposing of e-waste and other hazardous materials. Finding a drop-off location via a recycling organization like Call2Recycle helps you make sure your e-waste won’t end up in the trash.
We've collected links about e-waste recycling options and laws around the world below. If you see a broken link or have information that's not listed, feel free to edit this page directly (it's a wiki!) or leave a comment.
How to Recycle Rechargeable Batteries
Changing a battery is one of the best ways to extend the life of your devices. But it's especially important that you don't chuck spent lithium-ion batteries into your household recycling bin.
Batteries have specific handling requirements, which means that not all e-waste recyclers take them. Confirm that your recycler takes your type of battery before leaving it in a drop-off location.
Skip to recycling locators to find an e-waste recycler near you:
What If My Battery Is Swollen?
Be very careful in handling a swollen battery, because it’s more likely to catch fire or explode. See What to do with a swollen battery for more specific advice.
Wait, Batteries Can Explode? Or Catch Fire?
Generally, batteries are pretty safe. You’re far more likely to be struck by lightning than experience a lithium-ion battery catching on fire.
But you’re at higher risk if you work for a waste or recycling company. These facilities have compactors, shredders, and other machines that break stuff into more manageable pieces. If a battery gets caught up in a shredder or compactor, it can break open and start a fire. Waste facility battery fires are up 38% since 2017, and 90% of recyclers’ fires are from lithium-ion batteries.
Heavy Metals from Batteries Contaminate Our Water
If lithium-ion batteries make it to a landfill, that’s bad news: They can leach heavy metals (such as cobalt, copper, and nickel) and dissolved gasses (such as sulfuric acid) into the soil and nearby waterways.
Recycling your battery properly means you’re helping keep waste workers, waste facilities, and our water supply safe.
What Should I Do with Single-Use Batteries?
The US Environmental Protection Agency says that alkaline and zinc-carbon batteries can usually be safely put in the trash. However, some governments have laws against throwing single-use batteries in the trash. Regardless, if your local waste authority collects them, recycling is best—for materials recovery, for conserving energy that goes into mining and manufacturing, and for keeping potentially hazardous materials out of the trash.
Many household hazardous waste collection facilities collect single-use batteries that contain dangerous metals.
United States E-Waste Laws and Recycling Locators
National E-Waste Recycling Locators
Rechargeable Battery Recyclers
Visit Call2Recycle to find a battery take-back location or get a shipping label. Via its mail-in program, Call2Recycle takes rechargeable batteries, single-use ("primary") batteries, cell phones, and e-bike batteries. Its partner locations may take some or all of these things.
Other E-Waste Recyclers
Earth911 has a great general e-waste recycling locator.
State-by-State E-Waste Legislation
The United States of America does not have a national e-waste mandate. However, individual states have passed state e-waste laws. The list below is a community-built list. If your state isn't listed below, don't assume there's not state e-waste law for you to follow.
- Alabama e-waste law: In Alabama, large producers of e-waste that counts as "universal waste" (e.g., some kinds of batteries, mercury-containing devices, and electric lamps) need to recycle that e-waste formally. Households are generally exempt, but it's good practice to recycle anyway.
- California e-waste law: In California, it is illegal to throw away several types of e-waste, such as old televisions, batteries (including household single-use batteries, since the passage of AB 1125), computers, cell phones, fax machines, copiers, stereos and more.
- California e-waste recyclers
- Recycle Indiana: e-waste
- Indiana Electronic Waste Program Registered Collectors (PDF)
- Indiana Solid Waste Management Districts
Texas requires all companies that manufacture new computers to offer free recycling for consumers.
Europe E-Waste Laws and Recycling Locators
Europe E-Waste Recycling Locators by Country
- Battery recycling locations: Environmental Expert Austria
- Kuhuviia.ee: web app helping with waste sorting/disposal.
- Ecosystem: Need to get rid of a device? (for private people and professionals)
- You can return most products to several distributors and there is an official campaign called “Plan E”
- Battery recycling locations: Environmental Expert Germany. Germany has a battery take-back requirement, so battery producers must also recycle them.
- For more information about the German e-waste situation please head over to Kreislaufwirtschaft.
- Battery recycling locations: Environmental Expert Greece
- Battery recycling locations: Environmental Expert Ireland
- CdC RAEE is a national government institution coordinating electric and electronic devices collection and recycling. Centro di Coordinamento RAEE
- Battery recycling locations: Environmental Expert Italy
- Battery recycling locations: Environmental Expert Netherlands
- Wecycle.nl: Find an e-waste return point
- Battery recycling locations: Environmental Expert Poland
- Battery recycling locations: Environmental Expert Spain
- Battery recycling locations: Environmental Expert Sweden
As in the EU, UK retailers must take back e-waste. You may also take e-waste to a recycling collection facility:
- Many household waste recycling centres take spent batteries. Visit the Recycle-More locator to find one near you.
- RecycleNow and RecycleYourElectricals also have UK recycling locators (we love RYE's "Repair electronics" page!).
- In Wales, see the WalesRecycles recycling locator.
- If you live in Scotland and have an item in good enough condition to be reused, check out Zero Waste Scotland's Reuse Tool.
Europe E-Waste Laws
The European Union Directive on e-waste stipulates in article 5 that all households can return their e-waste free of charge. You can return your irreparable equipment free of charge to
- specialised collection facilities,
- to the distributor from whom you purchase an equivalent new product, even electronic merchants,
- or to department stores, who are obliged to take back small appliances without any obligation for you to purchase a new product.
Batteries, cells and lamps can in many countries be returned in collectors in supermarkets and a large number of small retail stores.
UK e-waste recycling laws, for now, map pretty closely to EU laws. Government ministers announced in 2017 that all EU environmental laws would apply to post-Brexit Britain, including the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive.
UK retailers need to take back used WEEE, and UK repairers and refurbishers of WEEE may need a pollution, prevention, and control permit.
Canadian E-Waste Laws and Recycling Locators
Canadian E-Waste Recycling Locators
Rechargeable Battery Recyclers
Other E-Waste Recyclers
- The Electronic Products Recycling Association has a national Canadian e-waste locator for all provinces except Alberta, Northwest Territories, and Yukon.
- Alberta Recycling Management Authority manages its own e-waste recycling depot locator.
Canadian E-Waste Recycling Laws
You can find details about e-waste management on a per Provence level on this site.
Australia E-Waste Laws and Recycling Locators
Australia E-Waste Recycling Locators
- To find a cell phone recycling drop off point in Australia, see the MobileMuster drop-off locator.
- The Ecoactiv platform by eMeals allows you to schedule an e-waste recycling pickup from your home, across Australia. They deliver the e-waste to accredited local recyclers and donate 5 meals for every recycling pickup to people in need.
- PlanetArk has recycling locators for
Australia E-Waste Recycling Laws
- The 2011 National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme established household and small business access to industry-funded collection and recycling for TVs, computers, computer parts, and peripherals. Computer manufacturers and importers are required to foot the bill for end-of-life recycling of their products. See 2021 Rules for enactment and enforcement details.
- The MobileMuster cell phone recycling program is nationally accredited in accordance with the 2011 Product Stewardship Act. They operate a free recycling service with 3,500 drop-off points across the country.
New Zealand E-Waste Laws and Recycling Locators
New Zealand E-Waste Recycling Locators
- TechCollect NZ has an e-waste recycling locator.
- Ewaste.org.nz has regular recycling events around Auckland.
New Zealand E-Waste Recycling Laws
- The New Zealand Government began requiring product stewardship of electrical and electronic products in July 2020, thus introducing a product takeback requirement for producers of e-waste.
- New Zealand follows the Basel Convention regarding imports of e-waste.
- Fun fact: At Mint Innovation in Auckland, microbes are extracting gold from e-waste without the need for hazardous arsenic-based practices.
India E-Waste Laws and Recycling Locators
India is the world's third-biggest contributor of e-waste, after China and the US. Despite attempts to regulate e-waste, much continues to be imported into India and informally recycled in hubs like Seelampur.
Seelampur demonstrates some of the challenging balances of e-waste collection schemes: Currently, 95% of India's e-waste is processed by informal, illegal waste pickers, an incredibly high collection and processing percentage. The economy in Seelampur is so dependent on the processing of e-waste that even though pollution makes the skies gray and workers often die of respiratory problems, locals are reluctant to disrupt the status quo. Changes to the system will need to weigh the lives and livelihoods of the informal waste picking network against the benefits of modernizing e-waste recycling in India. Ideally, governments will find a way to leverage the informal network's incredible collection rates and integrate the informal workers into the developing formal recycling system.
Today, there are a few dozen formal e-waste recyclers in India (see lists below). In February 2022, the Delhi government announced plans to build the nation's first e-waste recycling park in the Narela industrial area.
India E-Waste Recycling Locators
- Data Direct Networks maintains a list of e-waste collection points throughout India.
- Actalent Services also has a list of India e-waste collection centres.
- Dell has yet another list of e-waste drop-off points in India.
India E-Waste Recycling Laws
- As of 2016, per the E-Waste Management Rules, India requires that businesses generating e-waste recycle it, that e-waste recyclers be registered with the government, and that manufacturers of e-waste products pay back a deposit (with interest) to consumers who return covered products. Manufacturers must also include a symbol indicating that the product shouldn't be discarded in household waste. By 2023, businesses should be forwarding at least 70% of e-waste to recycling or dismantling centres.
Asia E-Waste Laws and Recycling Locators
According to the United Nations,
Asia is the largest consumer of electrical and electronic equipment [EEE — anything with a battery or a cord], buying nearly half of EEE put on the market. Asia as a whole not only accounts for the majority of EEE sales, but also generates the highest volume of e-waste—estimated at 16 million tonnes in 2014. However, on a per capita basis, this amounts to only to 3.7 kg per inhabitant, as compared to Europe and the Americas, which generate nearly four times as much per capita — 15.6 kg per inhabitant.
With growing incomes, consumers in Asia now replace their gadgets more frequently. In addition, many products are designed for low-cost production, but not necessarily repair, refurbishment or easy recycling.
All the countries in the region control e-waste either via the Basel Convention or their national legal frameworks. However, measures to control the import of second-hand electronics and e-waste are different among the countries and regions. There are two types of control measures for the import of e-waste and second-hand electronics: 1) to control the import of e-waste and not restrict the import of second-hand electronics (Taiwan, Province of China, Japan, the Philippines, Republic of Korea, Singapore and Vietnam); and 2) to prohibit the import of e-waste and prohibit or restrict the import of second-hand electronics (Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Vietnam).
Between 2012 and 2017, e-waste in east and south-east Asia jumped 63%.
Despite these formal steps, enforcement of these measures remains a significant challenge in these countries and many others around the globe.
For more information, please see the Regional E-Waste-Monitor.
- Cambodia's 1999 Solid Waste Management e-waste Sub-decree prohibited import of e-waste from abroad. Though there is no national e-waste management plan, some municipalities have their own solutions: for instance, the Phnom Penh Municipality began an e-waste management project in 2009.
- Battery disposal bins are available at many markets in Phnom Penh, including the Sorya Shopping Mall, Plaza, Lucky Supermarkets, Exchange Square Eden Garden, Olympia, Stung Meanchey Thmey, TK and the Marts at Total, Tela gas stations, Chip Mong NORO Mall, Chip Mong Bak Touk, Borey Peng Huoth Boeung Snor, PTT Gas Station & Cafe Amazon near Olympic Stadium, Star Mart at the Bokor traffic light, and at Phsar Toch.
- To protect the environment, China passed the regulation of e-waste recycling in 2008 and implemented it in 2011. China used to accept 70% of the world's e-waste but in 2018 enacted a stricter wide-reaching waste import ban, which included e-waste.
- China is home to what was once one of the most infamous e-waste recycling locations in the world, Guiyu. In 2012, tens of thousands of informal recyclers in Guiyu processed more than a million tons of e-waste each year, mostly by hand, in ways that were dangerous to workers' health and to the environment. In 2015, the Guiyu Circular Economy Industrial Park opened, aiming to supplant the informal network.
- To find an e-waste recycling location in China, see the smartphone app Baidu Recycle, a collaboration between The United Nations Development Program and Baidu Big Data Joint Laboratory.
- The following Ministry of Environment website shows where you can bring unwanted home appliances for recycling based on your residential area: Portal Site for Recycling Compact-Appliances
- For home appliance recycling, please follow your regional guidelines for proper method of disposal.
- In Malaysia, e-waste is regulated by Code SW110, the Environmental Quality Regulations of 2005. The government banned import of all non-recyclable solid waste in 2018.
- The E-Waste Management in Malaysia program of the Department of Environment has an e-waste recycling locator.
- Globe Philippines has a list of e-waste recycling services in the country.
- South Korea does not have a national e-waste mandate but some local governments have launched e-waste recycling programs.
- Since 2009, the Seoul Metropolitan Government adopted the Urban Mining Project which extract rare metals from discarded electronics collected by district offices or public institutions. Check out the Seoul Resource Center.
- The Korean Ministry of Environment partners with the Korean Electronics Recycling Cooperative which offers nationwide free collection services. This site provides the following information on how to use the free collection service: "Large electronic appliance wastes (washing machine, refrigerator, air conditioner, etc.): Use the free pick-up collection service. ☎ Call Center (1599-0903), Online (www.15990903.or.kr)" - and says this about recycling small electronics: "in the designated collection box at your local community service center or apartment".
- The Korea Electronics Recycling Cooperative (KERC), was established to facilitate the effective recycling of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) and operate the national recycling centers.
- LG Electronics collects e-waste in accordance with the local (WEEE) regulations and requirements around the world.
- Thailand banned the import of e-waste (those covered by the Basel convention) in 2020. Environmental advocates in Thailand have called for the country to adopt more aggressive import policies and more thoroughly inspect containers.
- E-waste Green Network has a list of e-waste recycling drop points in Thailand.
- The Taiwan Toxic and Concerned Chemical Substances Control Act, announced in 1986 and amended repeatedly through 2019, declares several key components of e-waste to be disposed of in facilities authorized and regulated by the government.
- Taiwan's "4-in-1 Recycling Program" grew the country's e-waste management from no formal e-waste recycling in 1997 to 19 facilities in 2011. Today, Taiwan has one of the highest recycling rates in the world, with some sources estimating that 55% of household waste is recycled.
- In Taipei City, batteries and small home appliances—including cell phones, computers, and peripherals—are collected by recycling trucks multiple times a week.
- Fun fact: The Super Dragon Technical Industries e-waste recycling facility in Taoyuan was itself built in part out of recycled e-waste.
Latin America E-Waste Laws and Recycling Locators
The requirements for e-waste management in Latin America are relatively new. It is unfortunate to know that no Latin American country exceeds 5% in the recycling of electronic waste generated annually. Only a few countries in the region have specific laws and regulations on the management of electronic waste.
Brazil is the leader in the production of e-waste in Latin America (and second in the whole American continent) and has national solid waste legislation from 2010, the "Política Nacional de Resíduos Sólidos." It defines the principles, goals and instruments related to the comprehensive and solid waste management (federal district, each federal state and the municipalities have to cooperate with the union in order to implement the established in the law): http://www.planalto.gov.br/ccivil_03/_at....
According to the Global E-Waste Monitor 2017, Brazil had 1.5 Mt of e-waste with only 3% adequate collection.
There are waste collection companies and waste picker cooperatives working in a non-profit model that also offer e-waste collection. Here just a few of them:
Middle East E-Waste Laws and Recycling Locators
- See Environmental Expert Iraq for an e-waste recycling locator.
- You can access Turkey’s legislation concerning the issue here.
United Arab Emirates
- EnviroServe, in Dubai Industrial City, processes e-waste from 10 countries in the Middle East and North Africa. Submit an online request to schedule collection.
Africa E-Waste Laws and Recycling Locators
For a long time, Africa was positioned as the "dumping ground" of e-waste, where waste producers from the Global North would send dead electronics, to the detriment of waste picking children. The Ghana scrapyard Agbogbloshie has been demonized in these reports.
However, as African consumers have become more able to purchase new technology, electronics manufacturers have jumped to meet their needs (dominated by Transsion branded smartphones). Today, 50-85% of African e-waste comes from within the continent.
Africa generates 2.9 Mt of e-waste a year and recycles 0.9% of that formally. However, as of 2020, 13 African nations have some sort of national e-waste law. By some estimates, informal recycling and reuse in Africa is more complete than on other continents: As much as 95% of electronic waste in Ghana is collected, mostly informally.
- Cameroon has ratified the Basel Convention and Bamako Convention, limiting the import of hazardous wastes including e-waste.
- Solidarite Technologique opened the first Cameroon e-waste recycling facility.
- Ivory Coast supermarket chain Promusa has e-waste deposit stations at all markets.
- Create Lab has been teaching locals how to repair, reuse, and recycle e-waste in Abidjan.
- In 2021, Egypt ICT and environment ministries launched a program called E-Tadweer, which promotes safe e-waste recycling. The Tadweer apps let users upload a photo of electronics they want to recycle, then automatically recommends local facilities that can recycle the equipment.
- Ghana passed a Hazardous and Electronic Waste Control Management Bill in 2016.
- A collaboration between the Ghanaian and German governments created a technical training facility at Old Fadama (also known as Agbogbloshie) and, in 2021, built a recycling plant in the Tamale metropolis.
- The WEEE-Centre in Kenya collects e-waste.
- Zero Waste Madagascar collects e-waste.
- Atlas Green recycles e-waste in Morocco.
- Okunola Alabi of the Federal University of Technology, Akure, has made a public call for improvement to Nigerian e-waste infrastructure and legislation.
- EnviroServe Rwanda collects e-waste.
- The non-profit e-Waste Association of South Africa manages e-waste for the country.
- SSTAfrica has a map of e-waste recyclers.