Pollution Prevention

Reuse and Recycling Electronic Equipment

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In the News

Brookhaven Lab Receives Federal Award for Electronics Recycling

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory was named a winner in the Office of the Federal Environmental Executive’s third annual Electronics Reuse and Recycling Campaign at a White House ceremony on December 16. The Laboratory reused or recycled 143,600 pounds of electronics during fiscal year (FY) 2008, a period from October 1, 2007 to September 30, 2008.

The Office of the Federal Environmental Executive challenges federal agencies to donate and recycle excess or surplus electronics through the reuse/recycling program. Brookhaven Lab was among 18 winners selected from 14 agencies and 124 facilities for reusing or recycling the most electronics, competing against facilities of comparable size. A total of 9 million pounds of electronics were reused or recycled by all of the 124 facilities during FY 2008. The Department of Energy received the top honors for the third year in a row for reusing and recycling more that 2.2 million pounds of electronics from its 22 participating facilities, including Brookhaven Lab.

Peter Pohlot, Brookhaven Lab’s pollution prevention coordinator, and Donna King, the Lab’s property manager, who jointly managed the reusing and recycling program, received a plaque for Brookhaven Lab at the White House ceremony. The Laboratory was honored in the category of “Large Facility – over 2,500 employees.”

“We recycle all of the Laboratory’s electronic equipment in an environmentally sustainable way, including desktop and laptop computers, cameras, printers, scanners and network servers,” Pohlot said. “It’s important to reduce pollution and prevent toxic materials from entering into the environment.”

The Laboratory recycled 106,400 pounds and reused 37,200 pounds of electronic equipment in FY 2008. Recycled equipment is sent to UNICOR for processing. Established in 1934 by executive order, UNICOR is a federal program that creates voluntary real-world work to train federal prison inmates. The electronics are “de-manufactured” in an environmentally sound and safe manner by the inmates. Parts are resold to benefit the program, which is self-sustaining.

The majority of reused electronic equipment went to Lab employees for on-the-job use. Also, twelve of Brookhaven Lab’s used computers were donated to nonprofit schools in response to requests made to a “Computers for Learning” government-sponsored website. The average life span of a computer at Brookhaven Lab is 4 1/2 to 5 years.

Federal Electronics Reuse & Recycling Campaign.  The Office of the Federal Environmental Executive is once again challenging federal agencies to donate* and recycle excess or surplus electronics through the Electronics Reuse and Recycling Campaign (ERRC). Starting on America Recycles Day, November 15, 2007, and ending on September 30, 2008, federal facilities will compete to see who can reuse and recycle the most computers and other electronics. Recognition of winning facilities will be provided at a White House ceremony around America Recycles Day, November 15, 2008.



BNL Awards and Accomplishments

June 20, 2006.  BNL received a DOE Award for Participation in the Federal Electronics Recycling and Reuse Challenge (see In the News, above). BNL recycled over 69,000 pounds of electronics, leading the East Region for Federal Facilities. DOE won the FERRC Agency Award for the federal agency recycling the most electronics.

Deputy Director Mike Bebon presents Donna King with DOE award for participation in the FERRC, June 29, 2006.

BNL donated six computer systems to Bay Shore Senior High School for the purpose of improving the math and science education curricula (May 17, 2006).

BNL donated excess computer equipment to the Kid's Place Early Childhood Day School, for the purpose of improving the math and science education curricula (March 23, 2006).

What is the difference between reuse and recycling?

Reuse: The computer would be used again in its original form for the same purpose. Or, it would be used again for another purpose after changes in the location/user or minor changes to the software/hardware. An example of reuse would be donation to a non-profit organization.

Remanufacturing: The computer would be rebuilt, upgraded or refurbished into a useable product for sale.
Recycling: The computer would be separated into its component parts, broken down into raw materials such as metals and plastics that can be marketed as recyclables.

Why reuse electronics?

Reusing electronics or reducing the amount of equipment at the source is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's preferred method of for managing potential waste. The USEPA solid waste hierarchy, is as follows:

  1. reduce/reuse
  2. recycle
  3. incinerate with energy recovery
  4. landfill

By promoting electronic equipment reuse and recycling BNL is reducing the quantity of heavy metals and other toxic substances in landfills.


Electronic Reuse & Recycling at Brookhaven

BNL actively promotes environmental stewardship of its surplus electronic equipment by:



BNL is currently conducting the following activities related to electronics recycling:

The following activities related to electronics recycling are currently being evaluated:



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Last Modified: January 30, 2009
Please forward all questions about this site to: Karen Ratel