So you’ve treated yourself to a shiny new upgrade on one of your electronic devices. Now what should you do with the old device? These tips will help you determine the proper way to dispose of your old electronics.
The big question is whether or not you can just “throw away” old electronics, and if so, which ones. Before you get rid of your old devices, here are some things to keep in mind so you can get rid of them safely—and how you might even get something in return.
What electronics can you throw away?
When disposing of any electronic device, your first step should be to check your local laws and ordinances. Some states and regions have strict guidelines on which types of devices can be thrown away in regular trash and which require specialized collection and disposal.
In general, most of the devices we think of as “electronics,” such as phones, tablets, TVs, and computers, shouldn’t be thrown in the regular trash. Many of them (and their batteries) contain potentially toxic substances that can classify them as hazardous waste. Additionally, some of its components, such as metal and glass elements, can be recycled, helping to reduce overall waste.
Other items, such as appliances like blenders that plug into the wall, can usually be thrown away without much trouble. In general, if the item is primarily mechanical in operation (ie, doesn’t have a computer chip, heating element, or the like), it’s probably okay to throw it away. You can always check the manufacturer’s labels or instruction manual to make sure there are no special disposal instructions.
What electronic devices should not be thrown away?
For the most part, electronic devices should never be thrown away. Anything that has a battery, such as a smartphone, tablet or laptop, cannot be thrown away with regular trash. If you have a computer component, whether it’s a literal computer or a digital device or a computer accessory of some kind, you can’t just throw it away. If you have a heating or lighting element, such as a coffee maker or toaster, it should not be thrown away.
This may seem like a pretty long list, and it is! When you can, it’s almost always best to find a dedicated way to dispose of any and all electrical and electronic devices. Depending on the type of device, components may contain toxic metals such as lead, mercury, sulfur, chromium, or cadmium, all of which pose health risks if disposed of improperly.
Safe disposal of these electronic devices also has an overall positive impact on the environment. Many items can be repaired or recycled, either as a whole or in their individual parts. This means fewer items in landfills, less impact from manufacturing, and even contributes to the availability of used items for shoppers looking for lower prices.
How to safely dispose of electronics
Different types of electronic devices can be safely disposed of in different ways, depending on what they are made of and what resources are available in your area. Start by deciding if the items in question are in good condition to donate for resale (with or without minor repairs) or if they need to be recycled.
If you are going to donate, keep the following in mind:
- If it’s something simple, like a lamp you no longer use but is otherwise in good shape, you can donate it to any thrift store or charity.
- If items need repair, call to find a store or non-profit organization that has technicians who are equipped to do the repairs.
- If it’s a computer device of any kind, make sure the organization you’re donating to is equipped to handle these types of donations.
- Always make sure your devices are completely wiped of all personal information before you leave your house.
If you are recycling, be sure to consider these things:
- Look for an electronics recycling organization that has a location in your community.
- In many areas, local governments may also have recycling programs.
- Several manufacturers and brand name retailers offer a variety of recycling programs, which you can find on the EPA website.
In some cases, you can even get a small refund when you return your old electronics! Here are some reputable options that can offer you a payback for your qualifying used electronics:
- Amazon Trade-In offers gift cards and discounts on the purchase of new qualifying devices.
- Apple Trade-In offers gift cards for eligible Apple devices.
- Best Buy has a robust trade-in program that offers credit toward the purchase of new devices when qualifying items are brought in for recycling.
When it’s time to get rid of your old electronics, make sure you do it safely. With these simple tips, you’ll be able to clean up your electronic clutter and then move on to the next stage of the cleaning process.