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How to recycle electronic goods

There is a vibrant, for-profit secondary market for recent models of laptop computers, desktop computers and cell phones because these products retain significant value.

 


Computers, monitors, TV's and other electronic goods contain hazardous materials which, when placed in a landfill, pose a threat to drinking water and may result in other environmental hazards in the future. Lead other metals and PCBs can be found in circuit boards, batteries can contain lead, mercury, lithium and cadmium, and leaded glass is found in many monitors. Plastics must also be handled carefully as they can contain toxic fire retardants.

Virtually an entire computer can be recycled. From the glass in the monitor, to the plastic in the case, to the copper in the power supply, to the precious metals used in the circuitry. There are many organizations that can find a new home for your computer—or at least recover some of the valuable materials inside—before it reaches the garbage heap. These efforts benefit both the environment and your community.

  computers, printers and hardware:
 


- Reuse. Pass it on. The first consideration should be given to reuse. Upgrading an older computer, for example, reduces the number of new machines entering the market. If upgrading is not feasible, then the simplest solution to recycle your old computer. If your computer, monitor or electronic item is in good working order, your local Thrift Shop, Goodwill, Salvation Army, AmVets will likely accept it. Or you can ask at a local school or put a notice on a community bulletin board offering your computer free for the taking. Many people without a computer may still find use with the word processor and basic programs.
- E-Cycling Central (US) - simply click on your location on the map to find a recycling center in your area. Guidelines are also offered to help you select the most appropriate recycler.
- Electronic Recycling Association (Canada) - ERA collects old computers for donation and recycling in Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, Toronto, and across Canada.
- National Cristina Foundation (US only) - Working computers can be donated to this nonprofit organization, which provides computer technology to people with disabilities, students at risk and economically disadvantaged persons. (800) 274-7846
- Voice of the Children - Donate your outdated computers to for its work in its Christian orphanages and soup kitchens for street children in Russia and Mexico. (650) 967-6604
- National Technology Recycling Project - constantly updated, this nationwide directory will help you find a non-profit computer recycler closest to you.
- Computer Recycling Center - will accept your old laptop (by mail) and will pay for the shipping if the laptop is working. If you live in the SF Bay area, they also accept drop-off of equipment.
- eBay's Rethink Initiative helps consumers and businesses learn about the different product disposition alternatives, such as recycling and refurbishing. Options are available for both working computers and obsolete or non-working computers. more info
- Share the Technology Computer Recycling Project - provides a searchable national computer donation database to connect computer donors and charities seeking donations.
- HP Recycle - for a small fee, you can have old computer equipment picked up for recycling. 'Coupon' points are available from HP towards future purchases.
- TechSoup - has compiled a comprehensive body of information to promote computer recycling and reuse. This site provides resources for those who would like to donate hardware, those who would like to acquire recycled hardware, and refurbishers.


Industry analyst Gartner estimates that in the U.S. alone, about 133,000 PCs per day are currently being retired and replaced by their original owners.

  cell phones and rechargeable batteries: 
 
- Office Depot will collect, free of charge, all old cell phones and used rechargeable batteries for recycling, including Nickel Cadmium (Ni-Cd), Nickel Metal Hydride (Ni-MH), Lithium Ion (Li-ion), and Small Sealed Lead (Pb) weighing less than 2 lbs/1 kg. These batteries are also commonly found in other portable office electronics products including cordless phones, laptop computers, PDAs, digital cameras, and portable printers.
- Barclay T-Waste - recycling and disposal program will recycle unwanted phones and equipment at no charge. Usable parts will be recycled, unusable materials will be disposed of properly.
- Collective Good - how to donate cell phones or other PDAs to the charity of your choice.
- Cell For Cash - this company will pay you for the value of a reusable cell phone.
- Find Collection Location by Brand Name - check here for manufacturers' local collection locations for recycling cell phones and other wireless devices.
- Find Collection Location by Zip Code - check here for local cell phone recycling locations.
- Sprint Project Connect - check here for the nearest Sprint Store location to recycle wireless phones and help raise funds for people with disabilities.
- Staples Store Locations - cell phones, PDAs, pagers, and rechargeable batteries are accepted at Staples stores for reuse/recycling by the CollectiveGood organization. more info
- ReCellular - a global leader in the collection and recycling of cell phones. This service also provides a free online Data Eraser that removes all personal information from your cell phone prior to recycling.

A total of 500 million used cell phones weighing more than 250,000 tons are estimated to be currently stockpiled, awaiting disposal. (Source: INFORM, Inc.)


Related page: Recycling basics for the home


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