As technology advances, the lifecycle of AV equipment shortens, leading to increased electronic waste (e-waste). This e-waste not only represents a lost opportunity for resource recovery but also poses significant environmental hazards due to the toxic materials they contain.

Tempest Technologies is a certified member of SAVe (Sustainability in AV), a non-profit organization bringing together stakeholders in the AV industry to take concerted action toward achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. E-waste repurposing and recycling can have an especially large impact on Goal #12 of the 2030 SDGs, Responsible Consumption and Production.

Together, we can transform the way the AV industry approaches e-waste, turning challenges into opportunities for innovation and sustainability.

This guide outlines the importance of e-waste recycling, the challenges faced by the AV industry in managing end-of-life equipment, and the steps we can all take to ensure a more sustainable future. Whether you are an AV integrator looking to incorporate eco-friendly practices into your operations, or a customer seeking to responsibly dispose of outdated AV equipment, this guide will provide you with the knowledge and tools necessary to contribute to a greener planet.


Understanding AV Equipment Waste

The lifecycle of AV equipment plays a significant role in the generation of e-waste. AV equipment contains a mix of metals, plastics, and hazardous substances like lead, mercury, and cadmium, which can pose significant environmental and health risks if not properly managed. The complexity of these devices often makes recycling and disposal a challenging task, requiring specialized knowledge and facilities.

Improper disposal of AV equipment contributes to several environmental problems. Landfills receiving e-waste can leach toxic substances into the soil and waterways, adversely affecting ecosystems and human health. Additionally, the energy and resources consumed in the production of new AV devices, as a replacement for the discarded ones, further exacerbate the carbon footprint of the industry.

The responsible management of AV equipment waste is crucial for minimizing its environmental impact. Proper recycling and disposal processes not only reduce the volume of waste ending up in landfills but also allow for the recovery of valuable materials that can be reused in the manufacturing of new products. This approach supports the circular economy model, promoting sustainability and resource efficiency.

Moreover, compliance with e-waste regulations and standards is essential for AV integrators and businesses, as it helps mitigate legal and reputational risks. By adopting sustainable practices, companies can demonstrate their commitment to environmental stewardship, enhancing their brand image and competitive edge in the market.

Understanding AV equipment waste and its implications is the first step toward developing effective strategies for its management. By recognizing the environmental impact and embracing responsible disposal and recycling practices, the AV industry can significantly contribute to the global efforts in e-waste reduction and sustainability.


  1. Lead: Found in solder and the glass of older cathode-ray tube (CRT) displays, lead can cause harm to the nervous system, kidney, and reproductive system.
  2. Mercury: Used in lighting components of some projectors and LCD displays, mercury can affect the nervous system and kidneys, and is particularly harmful to developing fetuses.
  3. Cadmium: Present in semiconductors and rechargeable nickel-cadmium (NiCd) batteries, cadmium is toxic to the kidneys and can cause bone and respiratory problems.
  4. Brominated Flame Retardants (BFRs): Used to reduce the flammability of plastics in electronics, BFRs can disrupt endocrine activity and are persistent in the environment.
  5. Arsenic: Used in some types of semiconductor devices, arsenic exposure is associated with skin lesions, cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes.

These materials necessitate careful handling and disposal procedures to prevent release into the environment, where they can contaminate soil, water, and air, posing risks to wildlife and human populations.



The improper disposal of AV equipment leads to significant environmental impacts. When AV waste is sent to landfills or incinerated without proper safeguards, hazardous materials can leach into the ground and waterways, or release toxic gases into the atmosphere. This pollution contributes to a range of environmental and health issues:

  1. Soil and Water Contamination: Hazardous chemicals from AV waste can seep into the soil and contaminate groundwater, affecting agriculture, drinking water supplies, and aquatic ecosystems.
  2. Air Pollution: Incinerating e-waste releases harmful pollutants, including heavy metals and dioxins, into the air, contributing to respiratory problems, cancer, and other health conditions in humans.
  3. Resource Depletion: The production of new AV equipment to replace discarded items consumes natural resources and energy, contributing to resource depletion, greenhouse gas emissions, and climate change.

The environmental impact of AV waste underscores the importance of responsible e-waste management practices, including recycling and proper disposal of hazardous materials. By adopting sustainable practices, the AV industry and its customers can significantly reduce the ecological footprint of electronic waste, contributing to the protection of the environment and public health.


Types of AV Equipment That Can Be Recycled

Display Devices

Monitors and Projectors: these contain valuable metals and components that, when recycled, can be repurposed for the manufacturing of new devices. Recycling these items helps reduce the demand for raw materials and prevents the release of hazardous substances into the environment.

Audio Equipment

Speakers and Microphones: these devices often contain precious metals and materials that can be recovered and reused. Proper recycling ensures that these components are safely extracted, reducing the environmental impact associated with mining new resources.

Cables and Connectors

- Wires, HDMI, USB, and Audio/Video Cables: Despite their small size, cables and connectors play a crucial role in AV setups. They contain copper and sometimes gold-plated contacts, which are highly valuable for recycling. Efficient recycling processes ensure these metals are recovered, reducing the need for new raw material extraction.

Media Players and Storage Devices

- DVD Players, Blu-ray Players, and External Hard Drives: As digital streaming becomes more prevalent, physical media players and storage devices are frequently discarded. These items contain a mix of metals, plastics, and electronic components that, when properly recycled, can significantly reduce the volume of e-waste and help conserve natural resources.

Recycling these types of AV equipment not only supports environmental sustainability but also contributes to a circular economy by extending the lifecycle of valuable materials. It is important for AV integrators and customers to partner with certified recycling facilities that adhere to responsible recycling standards, ensuring that all components are handled safely and efficiently. By doing so, we can minimize the ecological footprint of the AV industry and pave the way for a more sustainable future.


Preparing AV Equipment for Recycling

As the lifecycle of Audio-Visual (AV) equipment draws to a close, ensuring a responsible end-of-life process is crucial for environmental sustainability and data security. Preparing AV equipment for recycling involves a series of steps designed to safely decommission the equipment, protect sensitive information, and facilitate the recycling process.

Steps to Safely Decommission AV Equipment

Inventory Assessment

Start by taking inventory of all AV equipment slated for recycling. This includes identifying the types of devices, their condition, and any hazardous materials they may contain.

Data Deletion and Factory Resets

- Data Deletion: Prioritize the secure deletion of data from storage devices within AV equipment, such as digital signage players and networked audio systems. Use certified data destruction software to ensure all information is irretrievably erased.

- Factory Resets: For equipment with internal memory, perform a factory reset to remove settings and return the device to its original state. Consult the manufacturer’s guidelines to execute this step correctly.

Disconnecting and Disassembling Equipment

- Safe Disconnection: Safely disconnect all AV equipment from power sources, networks, and other connected devices. This minimizes the risk of electrical shock and data breaches.

- Disassembly: Carefully disassemble equipment to separate components that can be recycled from those that require special disposal. Wear appropriate safety gear to protect against exposure to hazardous materials.

Sorting and Organizing Equipment for Recycling

- Sort AV equipment and components based on material type (e.g., metals, plastics, electronic boards) and recyclability. This facilitates efficient processing at recycling facilities.

- Clearly label containers or boxes to streamline the recycling process and ensure proper handling of hazardous materials.

Tips for Ensuring Data Security and Privacy

- Use Certified Data Destruction Services: For high-security environments or when internal resources are insufficient, consider using certified data destruction services to ensure complete data erasure.

- Maintain Documentation: Keep records of the data deletion and equipment decommissioning process. This documentation can serve as proof of compliance with data protection regulations.

- Stay Informed on Data Protection Laws: Understand and comply with relevant data protection laws and regulations, such as GDPR or HIPAA, which may impose specific requirements on the disposal of electronic equipment containing sensitive information.

- Engage Professional Recyclers: Work with professional recycling services that adhere to certified standards for e-waste recycling and data destruction. This partnership ensures that your AV equipment is recycled responsibly and in compliance with environmental regulations.

Preparing AV equipment for recycling is a multi-step process that requires careful planning and execution. By following these guidelines, AV integrators and customers can ensure the safe decommissioning of equipment, protect sensitive data, and contribute to environmental sustainability.



How to Recycle AV Equipment

Recycling Audio-Visual (AV) equipment responsibly is essential for environmental sustainability and compliance with legal standards. This process can be complex due to the variety of materials and components involved. Understanding local recycling regulations, identifying certified e-waste recyclers, and leveraging available resources are crucial steps in ensuring the effective recycling of AV equipment. This section provides guidance on how to navigate the recycling process, from understanding local guidelines to finding specialized recycling services.

Local Recycling Regulations and Guidelines

- Stay Informed: Different regions have specific regulations and guidelines for recycling e-waste, including AV equipment. It's important to stay informed about your local laws to ensure compliance and avoid potential fines.

- Contact Local Environmental Agencies: Reach out to local environmental protection agencies or municipal waste management departments for information on e-waste recycling regulations and services in your area.

Finding Certified E-Waste Recyclers and AV Equipment Recycling Programs

- Certification Standards: Look for recyclers certified by recognized standards such as R2 (Responsible Recycling) or e-Stewards. These certifications ensure that the recycler adheres to high environmental, health, and safety standards.

- Online Directories: Utilize online directories and resources, such as the Sustainable Electronics Recycling International (SERI) R2 Recycler Directory or the e-Stewards Recycler Directory, to find certified e-waste recycling facilities.


Directories and Resources to Locate Recycling Facilities

- Manufacturer and Retailer Websites: Many manufacturers and retailers offer recycling information and resources for their products. Check their websites for take-back or recycling program details.

- Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Resources: The EPA’s website provides resources and tools to help locate recycling facilities and programs for various types of e-waste.


Corporate Take-Back Programs

- Participation Benefits: Some manufacturers and retailers offer take-back programs, where they accept their own products for recycling, sometimes offering discounts on future purchases as an incentive.

- Program Details: Research and contact companies directly to learn about the specifics of their take-back programs, including which types of AV equipment are accepted and any associated costs or benefits.


Specialized AV Recycling Services

- AV-Specific Recyclers: Some recycling services specialize in AV equipment, understanding the unique requirements for handling and processing this type of e-waste.

- Consulting Services: For large-scale recycling needs, consider consulting services that can manage the end-to-end recycling process, from inventory assessment to data destruction and materials recovery.


Best Practices for AV Integrators and Customers

Adopting sustainable practices in the management, design, and disposal of Audio-Visual (AV) equipment is crucial for minimizing environmental impact and promoting a culture of responsibility in the AV industry. For AV integrators and customers, implementing best practices throughout the equipment lifecycle can lead to more environmentally friendly and efficient operations. This section outlines key strategies for developing sustainable practices in AV equipment management and advocacy.

Developing a Sustainable AV Equipment Lifecycle Management Plan

- Assessment and Planning: Begin by assessing the current lifecycle management of AV equipment, identifying areas for improvement in procurement, usage, and disposal processes.

- Longevity and Upgradability: Choose equipment known for its durability and upgradability to extend its useful life and reduce waste. Consider modular designs that allow for easy upgrades or repairs.

- Recycling and Disposal Policy: Establish a clear policy for the recycling and responsible disposal of outdated or non-functional AV equipment, ensuring adherence to local regulations and best practices.

Incorporating Eco-Friendly Practices in AV System Design and Installation

- Energy Efficiency: Prioritize the selection of energy-efficient products that carry reputable certifications like ENERGY STAR or EPEAT. This reduces the overall carbon footprint of AV systems.

- Minimalist Design: Adopt a minimalist approach to AV system design, using the least amount of equipment necessary to meet client needs. This not only reduces energy consumption but also minimizes waste generated from unused or unnecessary components.

- Sustainable Materials: Opt for products made with sustainable or recycled materials and those designed for easy disassembly at the end of their lifecycle.

Encouraging Manufacturers and Vendors to Adopt Sustainable Practices

- Vendor Selection: Choose to work with manufacturers and vendors who demonstrate a commitment to sustainability, whether through their product designs, manufacturing processes, or recycling programs.

- Collaboration and Feedback: Collaborate with suppliers to encourage the development of more sustainable AV products. Provide feedback on product design and packaging to reduce waste and improve recyclability.

Raising Awareness about AV Recycling among Clients and Staff

- Educational Programs: Develop educational programs for both clients and staff that highlight the importance of AV recycling and the environmental impact of e-waste.;

- Promotional Activities: Use newsletters, social media, and other communication channels to promote recycling initiatives and successes. Sharing stories of effective recycling and sustainability efforts can inspire others to take action.

- Training and Incentives: Offer training for staff on sustainable practices and consider incentives for teams that effectively implement eco-friendly measures in their projects.



Navigating the landscape of e-waste recycling requires access to reliable resources and information. For AV integrators, customers, and businesses looking to adopt sustainable practices in the disposal of AV equipment, this section provides a curated list of resources. These resources include e-waste recycling certification standards, directories of certified recyclers and take-back programs, and online tools for managing the recycling process efficiently.

Before You Recycle, Consider Repurposing Instead

- SAVe: A Second Life: Give your AV equipment a second life at the end of its first one by donating it through a network that SAVe has established with the Commission on Voluntary Service & Action (CVSA). This network represents over 200 community-based, non-governmental organizations throughout North America serving people and communities in need of systemic solutions to economic, social, and environmental problems. SAVe: A Second Life

E-Waste Recycling Certification Standards

- R2 (Responsible Recycling): R2 is a global standard for recycling plants that ensures safe and effective recycling practices for electronics, safeguarding human health and the environment. R2 Certification

- e-Stewards: This certification is recognized for its rigorous criteria, focusing on preventing the export of e-waste to developing countries and ensuring secure data destruction. e-Stewards Certification

Certified AV Equipment Recyclers and Take-Back Programs

- 1 Green Planet: SAVe certified one-stop solution for the responsible disposal of E-waste. 1 Green Planet Website

- Sustainable Electronics Recycling International (SERI) R2 Recycler Directory: A comprehensive list of recyclers certified under the R2 standard, searchable by location. SERI R2 Directory

- e-Stewards Recycler Directory: Find electronics recycling facilities certified by e-Stewards, ensuring high environmental and social standards. e-Stewards Directory

- Manufacturer and Retailer Take-Back Programs: Many AV equipment manufacturers and retailers offer take-back programs for their products. Check the official websites of popular AV brands for details on their recycling initiatives.

Online Platforms and Tools for Managing E-Waste Recycling

- Earth911 Recycling Search: A tool for finding recycling centers for various types of e-waste and other materials, based on your ZIP code. Earth911

- Recycler's World: An online marketplace and directory for recycling centers worldwide, offering a platform to buy and sell recyclable materials. Recycler's World

- EPEAT Registry: A searchable database of electronic products meeting strict environmental criteria, including energy efficiency and recyclability. EPEAT



Can I donate my AV equipment instead of recycling it?

Yes, if your AV equipment is still in working condition, donating it to schools, non-profits, or community organizations can extend its life and benefit others. Ensure that all personal data is removed before donation.

Why is it important to recycle AV equipment?

Recycling AV equipment helps to minimize environmental pollution, reduce the demand for raw materials, conserve energy, and decrease greenhouse gas emissions. Proper recycling prevents hazardous substances found in some AV components from contaminating soil and water.

What types of AV equipment can be recycled?

Most AV equipment, including monitors, projectors, speakers, microphones, cables, connectors, and media players, can be recycled. It's important to check with local recyclers or take-back programs for specific acceptance criteria.

How can I ensure my data is safe when recycling AV equipment?

Before recycling, perform a factory reset on devices that store data and use certified data destruction services if necessary. Removing storage devices and securely erasing data can prevent unauthorized access to your information.

Where can I recycle my AV equipment?

You can recycle AV equipment at certified e-waste recyclers, through manufacturer or retailer take-back programs, and at local electronic waste collection events. Use online directories like SERI's R2 Recycler Directory or the e-Stewards Recycler Directory to find certified recycling facilities near you.

Are there any costs associated with recycling AV equipment?

Some recycling services may charge a fee, particularly for items that require special handling or disposal of hazardous materials. However, many take-back programs and local e-waste events offer free recycling options. Contact the recycling facility or program directly for detailed information.

Can all components of AV equipment be recycled?

While a significant portion of AV equipment components can be recycled, including metals, plastics, and glass, some parts may need to be disposed of differently due to hazardous materials they contain. Certified recyclers can properly handle and separate these materials.

How do I know if a recycler is certified?

Certified recyclers often display their certification badges (e.g., R2 or e-Stewards) on their websites and marketing materials. You can also verify their certification status through the certifying organization's official directory.

What happens to AV equipment once it's recycled?

Recycled AV equipment is typically disassembled, and materials such as metals, plastics, and glass are recovered and processed to be used in new products. Hazardous materials are safely managed and disposed of according to environmental regulations.


How does recycling AV equipment contribute to sustainability?

Recycling AV equipment conserves natural resources, reduces the need for raw material extraction, saves energy, and decreases pollution throughout the product lifecycle. It supports the transition towards a more circular economy, where materials are reused and recycled, reducing the overall environmental impact.


Tempest Technologies is Committed to Sustainability in AV

For those seeking more information or assistance with AV equipment repurposing and recycling, Tempest is here to help. We are committed to supporting our clients and partners in adopting sustainable practices and responsibly managing the end-of-life of AV equipment.

Join us in making a positive impact on the environment and ensuring a sustainable future for the AV industry. Together, we can make a difference by integrating repurposing and recycling plans into our AV lifecycle management and embracing eco-friendly practices in all aspects of AV integration and usage. 

Tempest Technologies President Debbie Williamson is a SAVe Board Member and cochairs the Partners and Alliances Committee. If you would like more information on SAVe’s core mission and initiatives, please visit to learn more about the programs they offer, or how you can become involved in leading the charge for change!