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Don’t let old tech go to waste: Recycle your old devices

A stack of old beige CRT monitors, PC power supplies, PC cases, a printer and an optical drive

Electronics. Without a doubt, they’ve become an absolute essential 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 dust in a drawer or storage, what’s the best way to retire these devices?

A hand holding parts of a mobile phone with a recycling bin in the background

Recycling

As the group tasked with keeping the environment clean in the USA, 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 the 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 with 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:

Multiple types of devices

Donate

Donating your older electronic products that you no longer use – working or otherwise – is one option. Many charities, non-profits, centres for elderly care 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.

Two arrows pointing in opposite directions

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.

Two boxes with an arrow pointing at one

Exchange for upgrade

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

Checkmark

Professional recycling companies

Dealing with a professional recycler assures that the 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 specialise 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 they fall into the wrong hands, could cause you nightmares for years.

Final thoughts

Old gadgets usually end up in your desk drawer or garage and stay there for years. As old or beat up your electronics may be, you should never throw an electronic device into your household waste 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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