How To Recycle Your Home Electronics
Image courtesy Wikipedia
When it comes to our electronics, we can’t seem to get enough. According to the Consumer Electronics Association, the average American owns 24 electronic products per household, and we’ve got an average of 2 or 3 defunct computers sitting in our garage or closets.
That adds up to a lot of equipment.
According to Greenpeace, 20 million to 50 million tons of electronic waste, called e-waste, is generated each year. And sadly, only about 20% of that is ever recycled.
The good news is that it’s becoming really easy to recycle our electronics. Everything from old computers, ink cartridges, and DVD players can be stripped down and turning into something new.
All it takes to do the right thing is just a little extra effort.
How To Recycle Electronics
1. Follow The Big 3
You can dramatically reduce your need to recycle electronics by first following the Big 3: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
Start by asking yourself if you really need an item before you buy it. Reducing consumption is the easiest way to help cut down on the emount of e-waste that’s being produced each year.
Second, Reuse. Can you buy a used piece of equipment? Or if you’ve replaced something, could someone else use what you’re getting rid of? Try putting it up for free on Craigslist or Freecycle. You might be surprised at what people can reuse!
There’s a good reason why Recycling is last on the list, and it’s because it should be your last step.
2. Check Earth911 For Local Recycling
Have you got a broken cell phone that needs to go? An old TV?
Earth911 has a great searchable database on the main page of their site that lets you search for specific recycling centers in your area. No matter what you’ve got, chances are that Earth911 will help you find someone to recycle it.
3. Check the EPA List
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a thorough list of recycling programs for everything including DVD players, computer monitors, printers, and old game consols.
You can see the full list here.
4. Earn Money By Selling Your E-Waste
Do you have an old MP3 player that needs to go? Or did you just upgrade your digital camera and need to get rid of your old one?
Several companies will actually pay you to recycle these items. The two biggest are YouRenew and Gazelle.
What will they take?
- MP3 Players
- Cell Phones
- Digital Cameras
- Game Consoles and handsets
- Blue-Ray Players
- GPS Devices
- Home Audio systems
- Satellite Radios
- Camera lenses
- Streaming Media devices
- External Hard Drives
- LCD Monitors
- Video Games
All that e-waste sitting in your house right now could be cash in your pocket.
The best news? They pay for the shipping.
5. Donate Your Electronics
Your electronics could be earning local charities some much needed funds. Organizations like Goodwill and Salvation Army regularly take used TVs, DVDs, VCRs, radios, computers, and cd players.
You can also check with organizations like your local Humane Society or women’s shelter. They regularly need items like computers, faxes, and copying machines.
Image ©9/15/09 Basel Action Network (BAN)
Proper Disposal of E-Waste
We need to bring up an important point here.
Not all e-waste is properly disposed of.
Many companies that claim to “recycle” e-waste simply ship it overseas, creating toxic mountains of e-waste in places like India, Africa and China. It’s never recycled; it’s just relocated someone else.
These dumping grounds have some incredible toxic result on the local people and environment. Lead and acids leach into the local water systems, and workers who are charged with burning parts come down with lung cancer, boils, and several other health conditions.
The Basel Action Network (BAN) is a nonprofit organization that is committed to making sure companies responsibly recycle their electronics.
Before you choose any company to recycle with, it’s important to check and make sure they’re part of BAN’s e-Steward Program.
The e-Steward Program is an initiative that makes sure companies that have pledged to responsibly recycle their e-waste are actually doing so. The standards are incredibly high, but recyclers that have taken the Electronic Recycler’s Pledge of True Stewardship are committed to doing the right thing. This means no land dumping, no exporting, no incineration, and no prison labor used.
You can see a current list of e-Steward recyclers in the United States here.