WHAT TO DO WITH YOUR ELECTRONIC RECYCLABLES
By Lauren Indvik
Edited by Aida Cipriani
Consumer electronics, a broad category that includes TVs, computers, audio devices, phones and other related devices, currently constitutes nearly 2% of the municipal solid waste stream and is steadily rising at a rate of 8% per year. According to the EPA, of the roughly 2.25 million tons of used and unwanted electronics each year, 18% is collected for recycling and roughly 82% winds up in landfills.
These are unfortunate statistics given the many useful and eco-friendly alternatives for disposing of your old electronics — not to mention tax breaks for consumers. We’ve highlighted a few of these options below, along with information about preparing your unwanted goods for donation.
What to Do Before Donation
- Don’t wait. If you’re no longer using a device, donate it as soon as you can. The value of consumer electronics declines at a fast pace. A computer that’s three years old, for instance, can be refurbished and used by students; a computer that’s six years old will most likely be recycled for parts.
- Clear the hard drive. This is essential for maintaining your privacy. Not sure how to clear your computer’s hard drive? Check out this video guide at PC World. If you’re a Mac user, take a look at this guide from Hive logic.
- Include related materials. If you’re donating a computer, include any manuals, monitors, keyboards, connection cables, software, etc. you have that you no longer need.
Where to Donate
Many companies have recycling programs for used and unwanted electronics…
Since 2004, Dell and Goodwill have collaborated to collect more than 96 million pounds of electronics and have recently expanded the program to over 1,900 Goodwill locations. Simply take your unwanted devices and related equipment to a participating store or drop-off site. Goodwill accepts a wide array of items in any condition — even broken monitor glass is accepted as long as it’s sealed and properly labeled. Goodwill will refurbish or recycle your materials to benefit local communities. You can locate participating Goodwill locations here.