Knowing Your Options for Electronic Recycling

May 7th 2016

What to Recycle

You can recycle many types of electronics including cellphones, televisions, computers, computer monitors and radios. Game consoles, DVDs, CDs, video cameras and computer printers also fall under electronics recycling programs in many cities. Take your telephones, headphones, portable USB storage devices and remote controls to your local recycling center for proper disposal.

Why Recycle?

Recyclers extract heavy metals such as lead, cadmium and mercury from devices. These substances may cause harmful effects to humans, animals and the environment. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency states if Americans recycled 1 million laptop computers, the energy saved equates to the annual electrical output of 3,500 homes.

For every 1 million cellphones, recyclers save 35,000 pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold and 33 pounds of palladium. Instead of mining these resources anew, companies save money, power and labor by extracting these minerals from older devices. Recycled materials save electricity, greenhouse gas emissions and water pollution due to the extraction of these minerals.

Where to Recycle

Many manufacturers and retailers have earned the EPA's Sustainable Materials Management Electronics Challenge Award. This voluntary program denotes trusted equipment retailers that prove they can handle electronic equipment properly. Cellphone companies, national consumer electronics chains and office equipment sellers adhere to this recycling program.

Stores such as Staples and Best Buy have recycling programs for cellphones, televisions and computers. Manufacturers that support recycling initiatives include LG, Sony, Dell, Samsung and Panasonic. Check with your local recycling initiative to discover places that take all kinds of electronic equipment. Some places have one-stop drop-offs for people that have any kind of used equipment.

Upgrade or Purchase Used Before Buying New

A secondary way to support electronics recycling initiatives involves upgrading your current electronics rather than purchasing new ones. For instance, some computers can expand memory by adding a small component. Check several used-computer stores that have refurbished models at a fraction of the cost of new machines. Purchase used equipment that has some kind of 90-day warranty in case something happens beyond your control and your equipment becomes damaged.


Electronic recycling, or e-cycling, allows consumers to dispose of old electronic equipment safely and effectively without harming the environment. In many states, it is illegal to throw electronic equipment into the regular garbage because of possible groundwater contamination. Find out what your recycling options are with regard to electronic equipment.

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