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Don’t Let Old Tech Go to Waste: Recycle Your Old Devices

Stack of old electronics

Electronics. Without a doubt, they’ve become an absolute necessity in this digital age. They are a major part of our lives from the moment we wake up until we go to sleep. They are in our homes, classrooms, workspaces, and vehicles. They are present everywhere we go from where we shop, eat, and drink to where we work, play, and live. One may even be in your hand right now. They are ubiquitous. They are our lifeline.

They are the gadgets that keep our lives moving forward. From computers to consumer electronics such as TVs, smartphones, gaming consoles, tablets, monitors, digital cameras, and even wearables.

But what happens when we grow tired of them, or they have outgrown their usefulness? Instead of letting them collect in a drawer or storage, what’s the best way to retire these devices?

Disassembled smartphone and recycle bin

Recycling

As the federal group tasked to keep our environment clean – the EPA says, “Electronics donation and recycling is a great way to help conserve resources and natural materials. It is important to make sure you are donating and/or recycling electronics safely and correctly.” 1

The EPA further explains that electronic products are made from valuable resources and materials – including metals, plastics, and glass – all of which require energy to mine and manufacture. They also say that donating or recycling consumer electronics conserves natural resources, avoids air and water pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions caused by manufacturing products using virgin materials.

On the flip side, many electronic products also include toxic substances – such as mercury, lead, and cadmium – that need special handling to ensure they are disposed of properly and kept out of public landfills. Kingston is an example of a manufacturer that has a worldwide Product Compliance management system in place to ensure metals and chemicals used in products can be recycled and disposed of safely.

Recycling old electronic products comes in several forms. Here are a few electronic recycling tips:

Donate

Donating your no-longer-used older electronic products – working or otherwise – is one option. Many charities, non-profits, senior centers, and the like will take them off your hands, refurbish them (if necessary), and then give or sell them at a low price to someone that otherwise would not be able to afford such an item.

Resell

In some cases, selling your old devices is a good option to get cash to put towards the latest model. Listing the item on a resale app or website is another way to recycle older electronic products as you’ll find buyers open to refurbish or take as is.

Exchange for upgrade

Some manufacturers and retailers will take your old electronics as part of an exchange/trade-in if you purchase a new similar product from them. The EPA has a listing of manufacturers and retailers with such programs. Click here to see the list.

Professional recycling companies

Dealing with a professional recycler assures disposal of the item meets applicable standards and EPA criteria. They also provide you with necessary documents that protect you from possible lawsuits regarding how the item was disposed. E-waste companies are subsets within the industry and specialize in disposing of electronic products.

With the recycling of any electronic product, the device must be cleaned, and we don’t just mean dusted off. The items listed above may contain sensitive data and photos that, if in the wrong hands, can cause you nightmares for years.

Final thoughts

Old gadgets usually end up in your closet or garage and stay there for years. As old or beat up your electronics may be, you should never throw an electronic device in the trash as they can seriously hurt the environment or end up in a landfill. With the options listed above, you can either sell your old devices for cash or donate them to a good cause. Through sustainability efforts, we all can be committed to continuously improving our practices, both ethically and purposefully, to ensure a healthy and sustainable environment for future generations to come.

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