Over the years, many organizations—across the country and globally—have been fined or sued millions of dollars for the improper destruction or disposal of e-waste. A few cases include Big Lots, Dollar General and even technology giants such as Apple.

Big Lots had to pay more than $3.5 million in civil penalties, costs, environmental projects and hazardous-waste minimization activities to settle accusations that it didn’t properly handle e-waste and hazardous waste that ended up in landfills.

Tennessee-based company Dolgen California, which owns Dollar General, has been ordered to pay $1.125 million as part of a civil settlement in which they were accused of unlawfully handling and disposing of hazardous wastes and materials over a five-year period.

Apple also had to pay $450,000 as part of a settlement with the California Department of Toxic Substances Control, which alleged it found hazardous waste violations at two electronic waste shredding facilities that the tech firm operated without initially informing the state.

That’s why it’s important to work with an e-waste management company that prioritizes upcycling. To avoid paying fines and to make a real difference with your business’s e-waste goals, using a company that prioritizes upcycling ensures that you’re using the most economically and eco-friendly solution.

Here’s what we mean.

Minimize Harm to the Environment When You Handle E-waste

To minimize your harm to the environment, make sure you’re working with a vendor that can guarantee your used electronics will be diverted from the landfill.

Every year, 50 million tons of e-waste is generated. This year, that number is expected to increase by 33%. In the U.S. alone, 5 million tons of e-waste is disposed of, but less than 14% of all e-waste is recycled.

What does this have to do with paying fines? Although recycling numbers continue to rise year after year, more e-waste ends up in our landfills than is being recycled because many companies don’t handle e-waste properly.

Electronics can contain up to 60 elements from the periodic table, as well as flame retardants and other toxic chemicals, which means that if e-waste from your company ends up in a landfill, you could be found liable for breaking environmental laws.

It would be easier to have those used electronics upcycled so that you can reduce any chances of the equipment reaching the landfill in the first place.

Shield Your Company from Legal Consequences

Here’s another reason why upcycling helps you properly handle e-waste: it shields your company from legal consequences.

Upcycling encourages repair, reuse and refurbishment so that products can get another life in the secondary market. This is important to keep in mind because, if you aren’t careful, your used electronics could end up in the wrong place.

Out of all the e-waste that is handled around the world, about 70% to 80% of it is shipped to landfills in many developing nations, where it is sorted and sold for scrap metal or burned to extract materials, which is harmful to people and the surrounding environment.

While U.S. regulators might not always be able to stop what gets exported overseas, they have fined companies for sending e-waste to landfills that were not permitted to receive the equipment.

That’s what happened to AT&T in 2014. The telecom company was ordered to pay $52 million for illegally dumping e-waste. Regulators said that AT&T’s warehouses and facilities across California had, over a period of nine years, been improperly handling and disposing of hazardous electronics.

Alameda County fined Safeway $10 million, and a number of other well-known companies like Costco, Walgreens, CVS and Comcast have had to pay significant fines for e-waste violations.

Make Sure Personal Information Isn’t Compromised

If your company’s electronic equipment stores customers’ personal data or proprietary information, then it is even more crucial to take the safest approach when disposing of e-waste.

Leading e-waste experts agree that secured data stored on used electronics poses a significant threat to national security if the equipment isn’t properly disposed of.

MIT tested more than 150 used hard drives and found more than 5,000 credit card numbers, social security numbers, medical records and more.

Experts point out that an average small data breach costs a company $3.5 million.

A good e-waste management company will not only practice upcycling but also make sure the data eradication is done in accordance with DoD 5200.22-M and NIST 800-88 standards so that you can be reassured your data is never compromised.

At Surplus Service, we take it one step further by offering our clients a Certificate of Data Destruction. This certificate verifies the electronic device and any information it contained was destroyed, and it serves as an added peace-of-mind for any company or organization concerned with reaching their zero waste goals.

Additionally, we provide zero waste reporting where we help companies maintain clear accounting and reporting systems so that they operate with the highest ethical standards for their customers. We also can also educate a company’s personnel about sustainability initiatives, disposal and recycling.

No company wants to lose millions of dollars for a mistake that could have been easily avoided. Don’t let e-waste be a problem. With upcycling, your electronics will be in good hands—and this helps the environment and your bottom line.


Surplus Service is a San Francisco, CA Bay Area-based award-winning e-waste management business that specializes in ITAD, medical recycling, electronic liquidation, reverse logistics and data eradication. As the No. 1 electronic reuse and recycling leader, our goal is to provide eco-friendly solutions that lead to the reuse of electronics rather than just having them recycled or end up in a landfill. To learn more about us, call one of our e-waste recycling specialists at (510) 226-0600 or email us at Info@SurplusService.com.