Tips for Proper Disposal of Old Tech

Question

Where can I take my old electronics for proper recycling?

Answer

This question was answered on January 21, 2015. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.

This time of year, many of us are asking the same question as a result of newly acquired electronics during the holiday season.

The vast majority of US households include some form of electronics in their gift giving every year, so odds are, you have older electronics sitting in a closet or garage.

Sadly, far too few consumers think like you, so e-waste (electronic waste) is the fastest growing municipal waste issue according to the EPA.

E-waste represents 2% of our trash but accounts for 70% of overall toxic waste in our landfills and it’s growing as our appetite for gadgets grows (the average US household has 24 electronic devices).

Most statistics suggest that we only recycle 15% to 25% of our e-waste so we can all do a better job of keeping the lead, arsenic, cadmium, mercury and many other toxins out of our landfills and groundwater.

Before recycling electronics, I like to encourage thinking about re-purposing first.  Just because the device is no longer good enough for you, doesn’t mean that it won’t be useful for others.

Start with your schools, churches and local charities, especially if you have older cell phones, computers, printers and tablets that can still be used.

The National Cristina Foundation (http://www.cristina.org) is a great resource for individuals and businesses that have technology that they think can still be of use.

The foundation focuses on service providing organizations targeting people with disabilities, students at risk and economically disadvantaged populations through their non-profit locator tool.

You can also make it available to others in your community by using resources such as http://freecycle.org, which is a virtual equivalent to putting it out on the sidewalk with a sign that says ‘FREE for the taking’.

If you have a cellphone or smartphones that still works, you may be able to trade it in or recycle it with your current wireless carrier.

There are also a whole host of companies like http://www.gazelle.com and http://www.cellularrecycler.com  that offer to buy your older phones, tablets and computers through online pricing forms.

You can also check with your municipality’s website to see if they have a structured e-waste recycling process, drop off locations or annual events.

The EPA has also put together a list of national companies that offer recycling programs for PCs, televisions and mobile devices:  http://goo.gl/sDTUV7

These companies offer everything from drop-off locations to recycling events and mail-in options.

Another list of recycling options for things like batteries, printer ink cartridges and computers is http://www.computerhope.com/disposal.htm.

Before you donate or recycle your computers, make sure you take steps to securely wipe your personal data from the hard drives: http://goo.gl/MGyE8f

Your cellphones and smartphones are also loaded with lots of personal information, so make sure you perform a factory reset http://goo.gl/0M07Q9 before getting rid of it.

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Posted by Ken of Data Doctors on January 21, 2015