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Recycle it Right

Guide To Recycling Your Electronics

If you want to get rid of electronic equipment that you no longer use and want to protect the environment, follow these steps:

1. Don’t throw old electronics in the trash!

Don’t put your old electronic products or batteries in the trash (even if it’s legal in your state). The toxics inside these products don’t belong in the landfill.

More on the toxics in your computer.

2. Donate for reuse if possible.

If your product can be reused, donate it to a reputable reuse organization, that won’t export it unless it’s fully functional. Some good organizations include the National Cristina Foundation or World Computer Exchange. Many e-Stewards (see #3 below) also refurbish.

3. Find a responsible recycler (an e-Steward) in your state.

mapIf your product is too old or too broken to donate, you should recycle it.

But many recyclers simply export your old products, dumping them on developing nations.

Your best option is to use a recycler who is part of the “e-Steward” network; they don’t export to developing nations, and they follow other high standards. Many also will reuse and refurbish equipment.

Click here to find e-Steward recycler near you.

4. No e-Steward near you? Try the manufacturers’ free recycling programs

old tv

If there is no e-Steward near you, then you may want to use the manufacturer’s takeback program, although many don’t provide much disclosure about responsible recycling. Many of the electronics companies have voluntary takeback programs, where they will recycle your old products for free. Some offer trade-in value or money back for your products.

Click here for our list of the computer and TV manufacturers, and details on each program.

5. Still Can’t Find A Convenient Location? Try these retailers.

Staples.  Staples takes back many electronics products for free recycling, thanks to their partnership with HP. They don’t take TVs or stereo equipment. One customer can drop off a maximum of 6 products per day. Staples works with a responsible recycler who is certified to the highest standards in the industry, called the e-Stewards standard.

 Best Buy takes back electronics at every Best Buy store, including TVs (up to 32 inches).  This does not include household appliances.

Find Best Buy’s recycling program info here.  Find a Best Buy near you.

6. Cell Phone Recycling

Cell phone recycling is very easy, since you can mail them back (for free) to some recyclers. Here are two good nationwide options, with companies that have signed the e-Steward Pledge not to export e-waste to developing countries:

Capstone WirelessUse their website to request a free UPS shipping label. They have a buy back program, so you may get money back for your old phone.

Call2Recycle – The Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corp also accepts old cell phones for free recycling. They have drop off sites in many cities (usually in stores). Use their location finder to enter your zip code to find the closest.

Don’t forget to erase your data

Before you recycle your computer, be sure to erase your data from the hard drive. You must do more than just deleting the files – you must “cleanse” the hard drive so it can’t be retrieved by anyone else. Sometimes your recycler will do this for an extra charge . Or you can use software that overwrites your data. Some are available as free downloads, like Active@KillDisk and Softpedia DP Wiper.

This is too complicated. Why don’t I just put it in the trash?!

Learn about the toxics in our electronics, and why they don’t belong in the trash.