A pile of discarded computer keyboards, mice, cell phones and tablets

The term "electronics" includes more than just televisions, cell phones and computer products. The term also includes DVD players, VCRs, video cameras, digital cameras, gaming consoles, stereos, answering machines, photocopiers, scanners, printers and the list goes on. According to a study by the Consumer Electronics Association, Americans own nearly 3 billion electronic products, or an average of 24 electronic products per household.

With a constant supply of newer, faster electronic products on the market, older models are continually replaced. As a result, electronics have become one of the fastest growing waste streams. Electronic waste has become an issue of national importance, not only because of the amount produced, but also because of the various toxic materials and heavy metals located inside these items. Electronics can contain lead, arsenic, chromium, cadmium, mercury, beryllium, nickel, zinc, copper, silver, gold and brominates flame retardants. If crushed or improperly disposed, the toxic materials inside the electronics can seep out and contaminate our soil, water and air, potentially harming both people and the environment.

If you have an outdated computer or two in your basement or old cell phones packed away in a box, you're not alone. While most electronics from residences can legally be discarded with household trash, the department recommends reusing, donating or recycling it. 

Special Note for Businesses, Non-Profits, Schools

All businesses, charities, non-profits, schools, churches and public and governmental agencies in Missouri cannot legally discard certain electronics in Missouri landfills. They are required by federal and state law to properly manage certain unwanted electronics. Electronics classified as a hazardous waste must be regulated as a hazardous waste under the Missouri Revised Statutes, sections 260.350 to 260.430, RSMo, also known as the "Missouri Hazardous Waste Management Law." Reusing or recycling through a legitimate electronics recycler will help ensure that your facility complies with the law. For additional information on the legal requirements, contact the department's Waste Management Program.

Reuse/Donate It

Reuse it 

You can add memory or other upgrades to old computers. You can connect your gaming systems, VCRs or DVD players to working televisions.

Donate it 

Schools, nursing homes and other organization might have a need for a television to watch movies or even training videos. Computers can be refurbished and used for a variety of things. Cell phones can be used as emergency use cell phones for the elderly, disabled, battered women's shelters, etc. 

Recycle It

There are environmentally friendly options available to recycle, instead of throw away, old electronic products. An electronics recycler can remove potentially hazardous materials. Doing so will not only help prevent those materials from contaminating the environment, but it also means the materials are available to be reused or make new products.

Where to Recycle

  • Under Missouri's Electronics Scrap Management Rule, specific computer equipment bought in Missouri after July 1, 2010, comes with a recovery plan that specifies how the computer equipment manufacturer will collect and recycle that equipment when you no longer want it, at no cost to you. Covered computer equipment bought before July 1, 2010, and manufactured under a brand by a company still selling computers in Missouri may also be eligible for free and convenient recycling. The computer equipment manufacturers listed on the Registered Computer Equipment Manufacturers List have an approved recovery plan. 
  • Take your unwanted electronics to one of the recyclers listed on the Registered Electronics Recycling Businesses List.
  • When notified by the event organizers, the department displays electronics collection events on the department's calendar. Use the keywords "collection event" in the filter. 
  • Search the Missouri Materials Management Directory. for a local drop-off location.
  • Participate in a collection event hosted by your city, county or solid waste management district
  • Contact electronics retailers in your community to find out if they have a take-back or recycling program.
  • Visit EPA's Electronics Donation and Recycling for more information on electronics donation and recycling.

What to Recycle

Each collection site has its own list of accepted items and fees, if applicable. The most commonly accepted items are:

  • Computers - CPUs, monitors, keyboards, mice
  • Printers
  • Televisions
  • Hand held devices
  • Cell phones

Note: Fees are often necessary to cover the recycler’s costs to dispose the hazardous components. Check with the individual recycler to find out more about their services and fees.