You got everything that was on your tech wish list this year, great! But now you have suddenly realized that your home is saturated with old appliances. You know you’ll never use them again, but you may not be sure how to dispose of them safely and sustainably.
There are better options than simply storing them in a drawer or throwing them away. In this guide, we’ll go over what you need to know to prepare your old technology for its new phase and take a closer look at some of the recycling options out there.
Things to do before recycling or donating your old technology
If you decide to recycle or donate your old technology, you will have to do a few things to prepare everything. Generally speaking, the most important things to consider before recycling your technology: back up your data, delete your data, and remove batteries or peripherals.
If you are going to recycle technology, it is important to protect yourself from identity theft by backing up the data stored on your old devices and then erasing that data completely. Similarly, you should make a backup and then erase the data on your old cell phones. This generally involves a factory reset.
Also do not forget to remove the SIM card (you may need it for your next device), the battery (if possible remove it) and any peripherals.
How to recycle technology at a retailer
Now that your old tech is ready to be recycled, let’s take a look at some of your recycling options. Your e-waste could be someone else’s treasure.
You don’t need to take your devices to a recycling center, as many retailers and manufacturers have their own recycling programs. Several of these will accept old appliances of any brand or bought anywhere.
To make finding some of these programs easier, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has posted a list. The retailers and manufacturers listed there participate in a program known as the Sustainable Materials Management Electronics Challenge (SMM). Here we will take a look at the recycling programs of two participants in this program so that you have a clearer idea of what to expect.
You can generally recycle up to three items per day per home for free, but there are exceptions. Large appliances and things like computer monitors can be recycled, but are subject to transportation fees. You can visit the Best Buy site for guidelines on what to accept and what not to accept for recycling. Best Buy also offers trade-in promotions where you can exchange your old technology for Best Buy gift cards or discounts on new equipment. You can recycle by taking your things to a Best Buy store (at the customer service counter) or through their transportation options (for things like large appliances or televisions). For transportation services, there is generally a cost of $ 30 per item if you are also receiving a new appliance from Best Buy. If you just want to take it away, then it costs $ 100.
And although Best Buy will erase your data from the devices you recycle, it is requested that you clean the devices before taking them for recycling.
Staples also has a free recycling program for old technology, and they also have detailed guidelines about what they accept and what they don’t. Up to seven items can be recycled per customer per day. All Staples stores will accept your old technology for recycling, with the exception of “smaller format stores in New York City and Washington DC”
They accept batteries, but only certain types. And for the most part, they don’t accept appliances except for “coffeemakers weighing less than 40 pounds.”
The members of Staples Rewards They can recycle ink and toner cartridges and earn up to $ 2 per recycled ink cartridge in rewards for up to 20 ink and toner cartridges per month.
How to recycle technology in donation centers
You can also simply donate your old devices to non-profit organizations who can then recycle or restore them for use by people in need. Some examples of these programs include: ReConnect (a partnership between Dell and Goodwill), Computers with Causes, and Secure the Call.
ReConnect lets you recycle computers and computer accessories for free at more than 2,000 Goodwill locations. Donated items can be resold, restored, or recycled. Revenue generated from recycled items is used to support job placement services and job training programs for Goodwill. Dell explains the online donation process here, and you can find a participating ReConnect location here.
Computers with Causes is a program that takes old computers and gives them to people in need. The recipients are usually students, teachers, parents, community centers, the elderly, or foster homes and shelters. You can donate laptops, tablets, desktops, servers, and gadgets. In most cases, the things you donate will be given to the less fortunate. In others, they will be resold and the proceeds will help cover the costs of shipping donated technology to people in need. Or the components will be removed that can be recycled or reused.
Secure the Call is an organization that accepts donations of phones and tablets. The phones are then delivered to people in need (often victims of domestic violence or seniors) who require a way to contact 911 emergency services. This works because donated phones do not require a paid cell phone plan to make emergency calls; they just need their batteries to be charged. Donated but unusable phones are recycled.
Call2Recycle is a battery and cell phone recycling program. You can take advantage of their delivery network to recycle old batteries for free. The network has thousands of public collection sites. Many of these locations include retailers such as The Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Staples. They accept rechargeable and single-use batteries (weighing less than 11 pounds) and cell phones; They do not accept car batteries or wet cell batteries. Donated cell phones are generally reconditioned and resold or recycled.
Use a local recycling center
You may have a local recycling center in your area that accepts old technology. You can check online directories to find the ones near you. Here are a couple of examples:
Earth911: has a searchable directory that will show you recycling centers, retailers, and donation centers for all types of recycled materials, including electronics and batteries. You can search by material or product type and then refine your search by zip code.
Sustainable Electronics Recycling International: this organization has a directory Search for recycling centers that are certified for recycling electronic products. It includes 991 installations in 33 countries.