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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 (multi-pass).

Storage media can be destroyed by shredding, cutting, incinerating, multiple perforations or crushing.

Your recycler 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?

Recyclers and 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 E-Cycling Guidelines.

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.

Companies that 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?

Good recordkeeping 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 reused.

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.

Your recycling 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 know.”

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)?

Recyclers should recycle as much of the materials as is economically feasible. 

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?

Insurance 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 operations.

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 device.

How do you handle mercury lamps in electronic products?

Source: National Center for Electronics Recycling.


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For information on SB 398 and the landfill ban on electronics, stakeholders meetings and general information on e-waste planning and e-Cycling:

Carol Throckmorton

304-926-0448, e 1671
Nicole Hunter
304-926-0448, e 1116
For information on the Covered Electronic Devices Grant program, manufacture registration and compliance,  and general information on e-Cycling:
Niki Davis
304-926-0499, e 1137
Lisa Facemyer

WV Solid Waste Management Board
601 57th Street, SE
Charleston, WV 25304
Phone: 304-926-0448
Fax: 304-926-0472
Toll Free: 866-568-6649