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Recycling Electronics: What You Need To Know

By Lori Melton

Today's tech-savvy, device-laden society drives consumers to stay on the cutting-edge of the latest and greatest electronic devices. Per Gartner, 2016 worldwide PC shipments alone totaled 269.7 million units. This doesn't account for the millions of tablets and smartphones sold as well. All devices purchased will eventually stop working however and become outdated or will need to be replaced. What happens to your devices when you get rid of them and more importantly, how can you responsibly dispose of them? Here are some things you need to know about recycling electronics.

Measuring The E-Waste Problem

Per a United Nations University report, 41.8 million tons of e-waste was generated in 2014. Disposing of e-waste by simply dropping it into the trash and thereby sending it on to the landfill is potentially dangerous. The e-waste that goes to the landfill leads to leaching of toxic materials (like metals) and chemicals which seep into the soil. Or, if the e-waste is burned in the incinerator, it leads to noxious gas emissions such as mercury emissions and dioxins released from burning PVC parts. This kind of aftermath is very dangerous. Therefore, it is critical to dispose of any used electronics items in a safe and responsible way.

Take It To An Electronics Recycler

Currently 25 states have laws regarding e-waste. You can visit the Electronics Recycling Coordination Clearinghouse (ERCC) website to see a map of them. Before you take your device to a recycler, be sure to erase all personal information from it.

Once it's wiped clean, there are lots of ways to find a reputable electronics recycling facility near you. Cities and townships often sponsor electronics collection days. Just place a call to your city or township office to see if your community offers them. Or, you can visit nonprofit organization websites like SERI (Sustainable Electronics Recycling International) to learn more.

Give Used Devices Away Or Donate Devices to Charity

If your electronics devices still work and you're just upgrading or looking for a change, considering giving your old devices to a friend or relative. You can also donate them to a school, local library, church, community center or local recreation center. eBay for Charity is one online outlet you can use to sell used devices and while donating all or part of your proceeds to charity. If you do make a charitable donation, be sure to get a receipt so you can claim it on your tax return.

Turn It Into A Tech Company

Tech companies frequently offer recycling programs. Best Buy marks a great example with recycling options for used electronics items, regardless of where they were originally purchased. Best Buy has reportedly collected and disposed of more than 1 billion pounds of electronics and appliances. They also offer trade-in programs on qualifying devices for store gift card credit. offers a similar gift card program and Sprint offers a buyback program for old devices. Printer cartridges can also be recycled through companies like HP and Canon.

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