Everyone always has those leftover electronics - from out-of-date cell phones to old printers and computers. It's hard to know what to do with those old devices once we replace them with the latest technology. The good news is that recycling that old technology can be very easy - all it takes is knowing what to do and where to go. Check out the different sections below to see what the best practices are for recycling and places to take these different devices.

Computers

COMPUTERS are one of the most valuable electronic devices to recycle; they are a gold mine for important metals and resources. These resources can be extracted from the computers and used on other items - making them ideal for recycling programs.

The best part is that recycling a computer only requires two steps:

  1. Remove any data or personal information

    It's important to remove any data or personal information from your computer before recycling it. This helps to prevent others from removing any of your personal information from the hard drive. This information can be stored in an external hard drive or cloud storage site for easy access afterwards.

  2. Remove the computer's battery

    Before recycling any computer it's important to make sure the lithium-ion battery is removed. The heavy metals inside of the battery can become dangerous during transportation and could short-circuit or start a fire if not recycled properly. Removing the battery ensures that it's not accidentally left inside while being transported to a recycling center.

The good news is that when you recycle the computer, you are also able to recycle any additional devices (such as extra computer mice, keyboards, speakers) as well!

MYTH: Old computers can just be thrown away.

In at least half of the country, it is considered illegal to throw any type of electronics away, including computers because of the hazardous nature of the materials inside of a computer.

MYTH: You can just upgrade your computer rather than buy a new one.

Although there are instances where you can upgrade your current computer to the new operating system, this is heavily dependent on the age of your computer. After a certain age, most software is no longer supported - meaning that its very difficult for any upgrades to occur.

Printers / Fax

PRINTERS are another important electronic to recycle due to the hazardous nature of its materials. From the metals in the printer to the ink used in the cartridges, it's important to ensure that these materials do not end up in a landfill.

Most parts of a printer/fax machine can be extracted and used in the creation of a new device.

  • By recycling an old printer/fax machine (whether personal or office), the parts can be split up and used in the development of other printers and fax machines.

Some materials in the printer require special care during disposal.

  • Most printers are comprised of several different materials, including lead, which requires a special disposal process for safety. Although curbside pick up is an easier way to dispose of a printer, it is not always the safest. By recycling the printer, it ensures that these materials are disposed of properly and safely.
MYTH: Printer cartridges can be just thrown away.

Much like a printer, some of the materials in the cartridge itself are hazardous and requires a special disposal process. The good news is that you can refill your printer cartridge once it empties. This allows for the cartridge itself to be reused and can even save you some money on replacing the printer ink.

The good news is that the process to refill ink cartridges is pretty easy

  1. You will need a printer cartridge refill kit and some gloves to protect your hands.

    Most office supply stores offer these kits - which can be reused. Using gloves ensure that none of the ink stains your hands.

  2. Remove the cartridge and find the two toner refill ports on the cartridge (you may need to remove the label to find these).
  3. Refill the cartridge by following the instructions in the refill kit and reseal the cartridge once filled.

Televisions

Many TELEVISIONS contain important metals and materials (such as gold, lead and copper) that can be extracted and re-used - making it a valuable electronic to recycle. The various parts and materials can be separated and used in the development of other televisions.

There are a few tips to know before recycling an old television:

  1. Reset the television to the factory default settings

    Since most televisions - especially smart televisions, contain personal information and various log-in information, it is important to reset the television to remove the personal information from the device.

  2. Use a dolly or transport to move your television from your home to the recycling center

    Due to the lead and mercury in the televisions, it is important to avoid dropping the television while taking it out of your home. The lead and mercury can actually be released if the television is dropped, which can be hazardous and harmful.

MYTH: You can only recycle old televisions

The truth is that you can recycle any type of television - whether it be the old box tvs or a newer smart tv. The televisions are seperated for parts (if they cannot be fixed or refurbished) and used in the creation of new devices.

MYTH: You can just recycle an old television in your curbside recycling pickup

In most states, you cannot just throw away or curbside recycle your old televisions because of the materials inside of it. From lead to mercury and precious metals like gold, many of these materials require a special extraction process for safety, which curbside recycling does not have the capabilities to do. Some curbside bulk pickup does collect televisions but it's important to call and check first.

Cell Phones

In the United States, more than 100 million cell phones are bought each year, but only about 10% to 20% of old cell phones are recycled. With the precious resources found inside cell phones, including copper, recycling old cell phones ensures that these resources are properly extracted and re-used.

Here are some things to remember before recycling your old cell phone:

  1. Transfer any important data and files - then do a factory reset

    With all of the personal information stored on cell phones, it's important to make sure all of this information is removed before recycling an old cell phone. It's also important to remove the old sim card as an extra precaution.

  2. Remove the cell phone battery, if possible

    Since most cell phone batteries are lithium-ion batteries (like computers), it's important to remove the battery from the phone before recycling the phone if possible. The batteries require special transportation to avoid any hazards such as fires or short-circuiting.

MYTH: You can just recycle your cell phone in the curbside recycling pickup

Cell phones are not eligible to be recycled in your weekly curbside pickup. Many of the materials that make up the cell phone, including its lithium ion battery, need a special process to be removed and recycled - which curbside pickup is not always able to do.

MYTH: You can't recycle cell phone accessories with your cell phone.

Accessories like cell phone chargers can and should be recycled, and the good news is that it's easy to do. Many of the places that accept old cell phones for recycling also accept certain accessories, such as chargers.

Small Electronics

Although devices like tablets, digital cameras, e-readers and smart watches are newer to the market, they are constantly being upgraded and changed significantly. This leaves many with old versions of these devices lying around their home. For those who have old electronics lying around, including VCRs, DVD players, MP3 Players, etc - recycling all of these devices can ensure that the valuable metals inside can be properly extracted and used in the creation of newer devices.

The biggest tip for recycling these types of devices is to make sure to complete a factory reset before recycling them.

  • Like many of the other electronic devices, it's important to remove any and all personal information from old devices before they are recycled. Many of these devices,especially tablets, e-readers and smartwatches, can contain personal information that can become compromised if not removed before being recycled. Even some older devices, such as an MP3 Player, can contain some personal information that should be removed before recycling.
MYTH: You can only recycle old TVs, computers and cell phones

Most electronics can and should be recycled when they are not being used anymore or are broken. Everything from VCRs to MP3 players to tablets contain important metals and materials that can be extracted and used in creating other products and devices.

MYTH: Getting rid of older electronics is a hassle

Recycling old or new electronics is as simple as either dropping them off or scheduling a pick up. Various places accept most electronic devices as recycling with no upfront cost or paperwork - all you need to do is drop off your devices.

There are only a few electronics that cannot be recycled. The list includes:

  • Microwaves
  • Smoke Alarms
  • Refrigerators
  • Thermometers
  • Fire Alarms