Tips for Recycling Your Old Electronics

Take a moment to think about all of the electronic devices you use on a daily basis, from mobile gadgets like your smartphone, tablet, MP3 player, or handheld GPS to household items like the television, cable box, DVD player, stereo, and computer. There are many more, but these are a few of the most popular products found in the average modern household. Now think about how many millions (or even billions) of homes around the world use such devices. And finally, consider how often you replace these electronics with newer, better versions. You might replace your cell phone every couple of years, upgrade your computer every 5, and go for a flatter, lighter television every 5-10 years. And if the majority of households follow this pattern, you can only imagine the amount of e-waste leaving homes each year.

However, there is a solution that will keep these used products out of some landfill in China, where they will slowly decompose (or worse, get crushed and burned), spewing their hazardous contents into the atmosphere. In case you didn’t know, many electronics contain harmful heavy metals (like lead) and other poisonous materials (like mercury), which means it is actually illegal to throw them away in most places.

Luckily, there are programs in place to help you recycle your used electronics. If they are not in working order, your best bet is to get them to someone that can properly disassemble them to recycle their many parts. Many manufacturers will take back old products for recycling purposes, so you might want to start by contacting Sony, Apple, or whichever company made your device. Many retailers (like Best Buy and Staples) also have recycling programs, and most phone carriers will take back old handsets and refurbish them for donation (or at least dispose of them properly).

Otherwise you can simply call your waste disposal service to arrange for a special pickup. Unfortunately, many trash companies will charge you extra to haul away your hazardous materials, but you may save some money by inquiring about free pickup options. Some service providers offer one such service free each year to all customers while others host annual pickup or drop-off days that are free as a way to encourage recycling. Either way you may be able to pawn off these items without cost simply by asking (or waiting).

Of course, you might want to get something more out of the deal, and if you choose to sell or donate used electronics that are still working you might just come out ahead. Think about listing items on Craigslist or some other classified site, or simply wait until you host your annual garage sale to put them out. It might not net you enough money to upgrade to a better cable package or the best broadband service, but it could definitely put a few bucks in your pocket. And should you opt to donate these products to a charitable cause you should certainly get a receipt so you can write off the donation on your taxes.