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Introductory Toolkit for Conducting Community E-Waste Collection Events

Rapid Response Question: Can you Provide an Introductory Toolkit for Conducting Community E-Waste Collection Events?

Requested by: Anonymous


Electronic wastes (e-wastes) include spent electronics, computers, cell phones, printers, and so on and is a problem waste stream if not managed properly.

E-waste collection events around the country are a useful service to communities and help prevent hazardous materials from being improperly disposed of. The variety and types of materials collected at an event vary depending on the hauler and recycler.

Why should community or business groups host e-waste collection events?

  • Good public relations and outreach about the host organization as well as proper disposal of e-wastes

  • E-wastes contain hazardous constituents and need to be disposed of properly (to a certified electronics recycler)

  • Benefits to community to be able to drive through and drop items off in one place and not have to search for a local location that accepts e-waste

  • Ultimately, recovery of the metals and materials (as compared to illegal dumping or landfilling) reduces the potential for constituents to release to water, air, or soil, and it reduces the need for mining and extraction of virgin materials


Typically, a minimum of two to three month(s) are needed to plan an event and conduct effective outreach to attract donors.

Here is a list of recommended steps for holding an e-waste collection event. Details for each step follow this list.

  • Set goals for collection

  • Find a reputable electronics recycler in your community to help with collection and conduct the disassembly/recycling of the collected items

  • Secure sponsors (if desired)

  • Set a date

  • Check with and notify government entities

  • Plan the day/event

  • Plan/conduct outreach

  • Conduct the event

  • Measure and promote success

1. Set an estimate and/or goals for collection

Goals are dependent on the host organization, but should include (but is not limited to):

  • Amount of waste (pounds/truckloads)

  • Number of households to reach with outreach messaging

  • Number of households dropping off material

The local e-waste recycler may have an estimating tool or past experience to help estimate the collection volume expected.

2. Find a certified recycler in your area

It is recommended to partner with an e-Steward® certified. Determine if the recycler is physically present to collects materials in trailers onsite at the collection event. If not, find out who they use for collection events to load and haul collected items to their recycling facility.

If there is no e-steward certified in their area, another search page for e-waste recyclers is at Earth911.

3. Secure sponsors.

Since these events are typically a community service, the host organization may want to have other local businesses help with outreach, covering costs, providing volunteer help on the day of the event, or be included on the outreach materials if the organization will draw more e-waste donors. Local businesses, sports teams, scouts, churches, community centers, and environmental non-profits are potential candidates for partnering on such events.

4. Set a date.

Work with recycler and facility manager at the collection site to determine a date AND hours of operation.

5. Check with and notify government entities

While it may not be required in every city, local government should be notified of collection events dealing with e-waste, to determine if there are any restrictions or special requirements, including stormwater control if it is raining that day. For instance, see California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) Guidance for hosting a collection event.

If you are uncertain who you need to contact with respect to government agencies, contact PPRC ( to determine which agency needs to be contacted.

6. Plan the event.

a. Devise a brand or logo, and advertising mantra

b. Work with the recycler/collector to:

  • Put together lists of the allowable and unacceptable materials. Emphasize that household hazardous wastes will not be accepted.

Note: Neither the host organization nor the e-waste recycler wants the liability of collecting, handling, and taking responsibility for proper transport of any fluorescent bulbs (mercury release if breakage occurs), fluids such as pesticides or solvents, PCB transformers, etc..

  • Determine if there is a limit of e-waste (by volume or number) per car?

  • Determine if electronics will be accepted from small businesses, large businesses, or only from citizens/residential donors?

c. Determine how much support the collector/hauler will provide on the day of the event, along with other requirements.

  • Will they do 100% of the sorting and truck loading?

  • Do they direct traffic ? And provide traffic signage/cones, etc? Or is that

  • Do they need a donor form filled out by any donors?

d. Based on goals and selected hours of operation and the level of participation from the onsite collection vendor, determine who and how volunteers or other outside hired staff are needed to run the event.

e. Determine a schedule for the day, including set up crew arrival through clean up crew.

f. Plan a short training/safety meeting before the actual start of collection. Safety issues include but are not limited to:

  • What materials are accepted and where they will be placed

  • Flow of traffic and crossing traffic paths

  • Wearing gloves if handling any materials

  • What materials are of concern in case of drop/breakage (old monitor glass contains lead, toner ink, highly flammable lithium batteries, etc.)

  • How to clean up any drops/breakage

  • Hand out any fliers or other event info or trinkets

g. Plan a designated place where volunteers and event staff will park.

h. Establish a drive-through procedure including number of lanes, exit driving path, etc. including posters, driving arrows, other signage. Important considerations are number of drop-off lanes, ensuring that handlers and donors do not cross traffic paths, how to remove full trucks during the day if needed, and trying to ensure that there is enough room and lanes on the lot so that cars are not lined up onto streets/blocking traffic. See an example plan.

h. Develop plan for signs and arrows directing people toward the event. Make or purchase the signs.

i. If you want to media or local community blog coverage of the event, let them know via press release, phone call, or other means.

j. Will you provide handouts or gimmicks/info to customers? In the interest of less waste, maybe handouts are not preferred. If you see value in additional messaging to the e-waste donors, things that might be of interest to include are: how/where to recycle e-waste and different commodities in the future, interesting tips about recycling and pollution prevention relating to electronics, thanking them for stopping by, and/or something to this affect:

NOTE: Any and all Electronic Waste collected at these events is sent to an e-Steward® certified facility within the State of xx that certifies that it is 100% demanufactured and recycled in a stringent and environmentally acceptable manner to the commodity level in the United States. No Electronic Waste collected at these events is sent overseas.

k. Plan for other onsite needs on event day

  • Cones

  • Caution tape

  • Protective gloves for all staff

  • Scissors, large markers, tape, string,

  • Garbage bags or receptacles (Inevitably, some things will be dropped off that will not be accepted by the recycler)

  • Brooms and dustpans (for clean up of small items or any breaks)

  • First aid kits

  • Canopies in case of rain

  • Hand flags (for traffic directors)

  • If it is raining, are there any special stormwater collection or diversion devices?

  • Other?

Summary of Potential Staffing /Volunteer Needs (Unless provided by collection company)

  • Event managers

  • Traffic directors (unless professionals/security staff/police to direct traffic?)

  • Set up crew

  • Two staff or volunteers per drop-off lane (or more depending on expected size of event?)

  • “Greeter” at entrance

  • Any sports celebs attending /helping?

  • Collection/hauling company

  • Final grounds clean up crew

  • Optional: photographer

  • Media?

  • Security if event is expected to be large

7. Plan and conduct the outreach

Who is the target audience? How will you reach them?

  • Website posting

  • Radio advertising (especially local sports stations)

  • TV

  • Advertising at games

  • Local community blogs

  • Facebook, Twitter

  • City/County (possibly a bill stuffer)

  • Ask sponsors to send out messages to their local customers

  • Other?

Example ideas for presentation or handout materials

8. Conduct the event

9. Measure and promote success

Work with the event hauler and/or recycler to be able to document the number of truckloads and pounds of waste collected. Compare to estimates and goals established above.

Share your event successes with a local blog, or newspaper and learnings with GSA members.

Electronic wastes (e-wastes) include spent electronics, computers, cell phones, printers, etc…and is a problem waste stream if not managed properly.

E-waste collection events around the country are a useful service to communities, that help prevent hazardous materials from being improperly disposed of. The variety and types of materials collected at an event vary depending on the hauler and recycler.


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