As of August, 2013, electronic equipment is exempt from universal and hazardous waste regulations. However, electronics contain valuable recyclable commodities as well as hazardous materials that need to be managed properly.
Electronic equipment contains a variety of hazardous substances that require special disposal. For example:
Cathode ray tubes and the glass found in computer monitors and television screens contain large amounts of lead
Circuit boards and electronic wiring contain lead, chrome and other metals
Relays and switches can contain mercury
PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) can be present in older, larger equipment, and can cause endocrine disruption and neorotoxicity
Some materials can be recycled as commodities, such as lead (Pb), silver (Ag), barium (Ba), cadmium (Cd), and mercury (Hg)
Most, if not all, of the components that go into manufacturing electronics do not decompose in landfills, nor will they be destroyed if combusted in a waste-to-energy facility--instead they will be distributed into the environment if not disposed of properly
Important materials and resources can be reclaimed from obsolete equipment if the equipment is properly recycled--either refurbished for reuse or destroyed responsibly.