April 18, 2016

Why electronics recycling should be a spring cleaning priority

By Team Ventev Topic: Tech Specs

Beaten up, broken, outdated, and old. What do I describe? No, not Bret Michaels. I’m talking about the once-loved electronics now buried in your junk drawer.

It’s time to get rid of them. And recycling is the best way to do that.

Why? Besides the obvious don’t-want-to-add-stuff-to-landfills reason, electronics have internal components that need to be removed and handled properly — some dangerous, some valuable.

About the dangerous stuff: Europe passed a rule in 2003 that restricted hazardous materials in electronics, but most U.S. manufacturers didn’t conform to that standard until 2010. So things we keep for a long time – like TVs and laptops – could contain lead in the solder and give off hazardous materials when they break down. Not good for you or the earth.

Regarding value: Phones contain precious metals like gold, silver, and platinum, all of which hold a lot of value outside the device. The EPA estimates that melting down metals from a million phones would produce 75 pounds of gold. And Apple just announced it recovered $40 million in gold last year from recycled devices. Definitely not something you want sitting around in a landfill.

So grab that Zune or VGA cable you have laying around, and follow these steps for easy electronics recycling:

First, contact your local trash service or dump. Almost all of them can point you to local recyclers for the different types of devices or accessories you want to unload.

Second, try your mobile phone manufacturer. Apple has that cool recycling robot named Liam, but most major phone manufacturers have robust recycling programs. They usually take back third-party accessories, too, just to make sure any chemicals and other materials are disposed of properly. (To learn more about the legal issues surrounding CE recycling, check out this Consumer Technology Association blog post.)

Third — and pretty convenient — is the option to recycle old products at a consumer electronics store. Best Buy has big displays in most of its store entrances, where you can easily drop rechargeable batteries, cables, and cameras. Other stores like HH Gregg and even Walmart should have options to do the same, though you might have to ask an associate for help.

[Infographic: Consumer Guide to Retailer Recycling]

And if your device still works, consider donating it. Plenty of programs exist, like Cell Phones for Soldiers and Secure the Call, that help people out and give your phone new life.

There you have it. A straightforward guide on how to recycle your old devices and accessories. Just remember – before you drop anything off, wipe all your info first. Apple and Android phones both have a factory reset option to do that. Then, bookmark this post. You’re going to need it again when everything changes to USB-C.


Find local recycling centers in your area! Technology Recycling Map

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