In this age of electronics, outdated computers and phones tend to take up space in our homes. Because electronic products are expensive one-time purchases, I operate under the “keep it ’til it crashes, dies, or no longer turns on” theory. When I finally admit defeat and decide to upgrade a device, I feel better knowing I can recycle my discarded model so it does not end up going to the landfill.
Thankfully, electronic recycling programs have grown in popularity. According to the most recent Environmental Protection Agency report, 25 percent of all “end-of-life” electronics were recycled, including 38 percent of computers. Some states have even gone as far as instituting bans on dumping certain electronic equipment in landfills.
Why Electronic Recycling Is Important
The steady pace of digital innovation means shorter life cycles for electronic products, so developing a process to ensure proper disposal is important. Old batteries and items containing lead or mercury are just a few of the items that should not be placed in a normal trash collection, as they are environmental hazards. While added effort is required on the part of consumers, recycling provides a way to break down machines that are past the point of repair into individual, reusable parts.
Many electronics manufacturers welcome the return of their older models, so check first with your product’s manufacturer or the point of original purchase. Retailers such as Best Buy and Staples have simplified the electronics recycling process by accepting used equipment at their stores. Local townships also organize electronic recycling days, on which citizens drive up to a designated area and turn in televisions, computers, and cell phones without even stepping out of their cars. One important privacy note: Before recycling computers at a drop-off location, remember to wipe your hard drive of data. If you don’t feel confident doing this yourself, ask an expert for advice.
Donate or Reuse
Thrift stores will purchase some older electronics, such as printers or televisions, as long as the items are in working condition and can be resold easily. If you want to donate your cell phone, women’s shelters collect them for those in need. Other charities refurbish old equipment and give it to families who cannot afford to buy their own electronics. A nationwide list of electronics recycling options, including nonprofit organizations asking for donations, is available at E-Cycling Central.
Giant retailer Target offers a buyback program that pays you the value of your electronics via a store gift card. To determine the buyback amount, enter the make and model of your device online and print out a shipping label or bring your item to a local store.
Apple also recently announced an iPhone buyback, coinciding with the latest release of new models. The new iPhone program applies up to $280 toward a new phone model as long as the older model is in working condition. Apple also recycles Macs, iPods, and phones. For computers, Apple’s estimation of the monetary value is returned, or you receive a 10-percent-off coupon toward a future purchase for smaller equipment.
With so many options available, electronics recycling is not only becoming more convenient, it often results in money back in your pocket or in the form of a donation to a charity of your choice.
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