SWANA Issues Policy On Safe Recycling Of Electronic Waste

On January 7, 2013, the International Board of the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) approved a policy regarding the safe recycling of electronic wastes.

As an organization of solid waste professionals, SWANA supports the following policy positions on responsible recycling of electronic waste:

  • Regional and local governments should endeavor to assure that flexible and cost-effective recycling options that meet applicable state and local requirements are available to all households and businesses within their jurisdictions;
  • Federal governments should assure that options are available for the reuse and/or recycling of e-waste generated by all federal departments and agencies
  • All levels of government should require that recycling facilities comply with enforceable worker safety, public health and environmental standards. Requiring recycling facilities to be certified under recognized, national recycling certification programs would facilitate compliance
  • Federal and international programs and conventions should prohibit the international shipment of e-waste to facilities that do not comply with standards for worker safety and public health and the environment, and to countries that do not have regulatory programs to enforce such standards
  • Prior to implementing a ban or restriction on the disposal of e-waste, infrastructure must be in place to regulate, collect, store, transport, re-use, recycle or re-manufacture the e-waste
  • Owner/operators of solid waste facilities should be protected from liability for the inadvertent disposal of banned e-waste if they carry out waste screening programs in accordance with the provision of the facility permits and have made good faith efforts to post signs and notify haulers that covered electronics are not accepted by the facility
“Electronics contain valuable materials, such as precious metals, copper, and engineered plastics, all of which require considerable energy to extract, process, and manufacture from virgin resources” said John H. Skinner, Ph.D., SWANA Executive Director and CEO.

“Recycling electronics recovers these valuable materials for reuse, conserves resources, and results in lower pollutant and greenhouse gas emissions than making new products from virgin materials” Skinner added.

Discarded electronics or “e-waste”—including TVs, video and audio equipment, computers, computer accessories, printers, scanners, fax machines and mobile devices (e.g., phones, PDAs, tablets, pagers)—comprise one to two percent of the municipal solid waste stream.

If you'd like more information about this policy, or to schedule an interview with John Skinner, please call Wendy Melis at 240-494-2256 or via email.


The Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) is an organization of more than 10,000 public and private sector professionals committed to advancing from solid waste management to resource management through their shared emphasis on education, advocacy and research. For more than 60 years, SWANA has been the leading association in the solid waste management field. SWANA serves industry professionals through technical conferences, certifications, publications and a large offering of technical training courses.

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(240) 494-2235