How to Choose a Vendor
Whether you are
looking for a contractor to manage a single day e-cycling
collections event or a vendor to make regular pickups at
your place of business, choosing an electronics recycling
contractor can be a challenge. Proper evaluation of a
perspective vendor is important. The following questions
should be answered during the vendor selection process.
What are your
policies and practices for destroying personal data on used
computers or cell phones?
Data can be wiped
from storage media using a magnetic wiping method or using a
program to overwrite all sectors of a hard drive. Any method
used for data wiping should be done more than once
Storage media can
be destroyed by shredding, cutting, incinerating, multiple
perforations or crushing.
should be able to provide written certification that the
data was wiped or storage media destroyed, including a
record of the methods used.
Do you follow any
recognized best management practices for electronics
recyclers? Who certifies and audits your management system?
Are you legally able to perform the work you claim?
consolidators should be able to produce evidence that they
have the proper facilities, training and equipment to
perform the operations. Evidence includes an audited
management/operations system, complete with recent audits.
Ask if they have
environmental management certification or system in place,
such as ISO 14001 environmental management certification, or
certifications by organizations like the International
Association of Electronics Recyclers (IAER) or the Institute
of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI).
For those that are
not certified, ask if they follow any recognized
environmental management guidelines such as EPA's Plug-in to
If your potential
contractor is a West Virginia business, ask if they have
filed a "Notification of Recycling Activity" form with the
West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection and, if
required, do they have a "WV/NPDES General Permit for
Stormwater Associated with Industrial Activity."
Have you had any
environmental or safety violations (citations, fines, notice
of violation, consent orders, etc.) or filed for any
environmental damage insurance claims in the last 5 years?
If yes, please explain.
have a good track record of complying with environmental and
safety requirements are preferred.
A company that has
been in business for several years with only a few minor
violations that were quickly resolved may be just as
responsible as a company with only a year or two in the
business with no violations.
Check for major
violations such as large quantity waste releases or
significant neighborhood complaints.
Do you send used
equipment or waste to other business partners or service
providers? If yes, do you know what their export policies
are, if they have any environmental or recycling
certifications or if they follow recognized best management
practices for recycling?
is one of the best practices. Look for companies that
keep detailed records including where they ship materials,
how much they ship and serial numbers for items to be
Although there are
several “full service” recyclers in the U.S., it is likely
that the recycler you give your products to will not handle
the full processing of your device.
company should have written logs of what processing (such as
sorting and/or shredding) is done on site and who receives
the materials or products after initial processing.
Ask if the
recycler’s business partners are contractually bound to the
same standards or best management practices your recycler
holds themselves to.
Be wary of
recyclers who state that their processes and business
partners are “confidential,” “proprietary,” or “they don’t
All exporting must
be done in compliance with laws applicable to both the
exporting and importing countries.
What percentage of
the materials you collect are recycled and what percentage
is disposed of (either through landfilling or incineration)?
recycle as much of the materials as is economically
Look for companies
that can recycle 90% or more of the materials, sending less
than 10% for disposal or incineration.
Also look for
recyclers that avoid landfilling or incinerating items such
as mercury lamps, leaded glass and batteries.
Do you have
general liability and environmental liability insurance? If
so, how much?
requirements vary from state to state, and the amount and
type of coverage necessary will vary by the size and
operations at the facility.
The amount and
coverage will depend on the scope and magnitude of the
If your recycler
accepts products that contain mercury lamps, such as LCD
monitors, laptop computers and some copiers, they should
have, and follow written procedures for removing the
mercury-containing components prior to processing the
How do you handle mercury lamps in electronic products?
Center for Electronics Recycling.