It’s out with the old and in with the new, especially when it comes to your tech devices. You always want the latest and greatest cell phones, televisions, laptops, headphones, and speakers. So what do you do with all those old gadgets when you’re done with them?

With an alarming 50 million tons of electronic goods being thrown away around the world every year, the time has never been better to see just how to recycle and repurpose your tech products. The answer is simpler than you may think.

What is E-Waste?

Merriam-Webster defines e-waste as “waste consisting of discarded electronic products (such as computers, televisions, and cell phones).” E-waste stands for “electronic waste” and has come to define any tech gadget or device that’s ending up in landfills and harming our planet.

Why is E-Waste Bad?

People are becoming more and more addicted to technology. Unfortunately, due to that amount of interest, many gadgets and devices are ending up in landfills. In fact, e-waste increased by 21% over the last 5 years.

E-waste is a problem because many tech devices use mercury, or some other element like lithium, copper, palladium, lead and cobalt, in order to function. These chemicals are scarce, but they’re also extremely important in creating the products we use every single day so they shouldn’t go to waste. Not to mention, these chemicals can be hazardous to the environment if they seep into the land, air, and water.

For both of these reasons, it does more harm than good to simply throw your old tech devices into the trash.

Recycling electronics prevents valuable materials from going into the waste stream. A long-term approach towards electronics stewardship is necessary both at work and at home.

– U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

What Tech Devices Can I Recycle?

The good news is most of your tech devices can be recycled. You just have to take some time to do your research. Don’t just throw your gadgets in the garbage!

The following tech devices can be reused, repurposed, or recycled:

  • Laptops
  • Tablets
  • Routers
  • Cell phones
  • Cables
  • Chargers
  • Televisions
  • DVD or Blu-ray players
  • CDs
  • Speakers
  • Voice assistants
  • Game consoles
  • Headphones
  • Earbuds
  • Wearable gadgets
  • Cameras
  • Camcorders
  • Office equipment
  • Appliances

Laptops & Tablets

Is it time to say “goodbye” to your laptop or tablet? Wipe your data first and then you can find a place to recycle or donate it near you. You can also recycle keyboards, computer mice, and monitors.

Routers

Broadband equipment, like routers, hubs, and cable boxes, can be recycled. Reach out to your provider to see what they recommend as they likely have some kind of collection service that’s free of charge.

Cables & Chargers

You can easily recycle cables and charging bricks by bringing them to a local drop-off location. Look into also donating old cords to STEM programs who may be able use the wires for various science projects.

Cell Phones

Both Androids and iPhones become outdated really fast, which is why most people upgrade their smartphone every 2 years. Luckily, you can recycle your old device at a number of places.

Televisions

This one’s for the people who still have tube TVs in their basement! You can easily get rid of an old TV by taking it to a nearby recycling facility. If it’s too heavy to carry, contact a junk removal service and they’ll take care of it for you.

DVD or Blu-ray Players

Streaming apps like Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+ have taken over the way we watch movies and shows. Thankfully, many recycling facilities will take your DVD or Blu-ray players if they’re no longer being used.

CDs

Do you have a bunch of old CDs taking up space in your house? You can donate them to a secondhand store and try to make some extra cash, or send them to the CD Recycling Center of America or GreenDisk to get them disposed of properly.

Speakers

You can typically recycle portable speakers at any facility that accepts “audio equipment.” If your speaker still works, however, you should consider donating it to an organization in need, or trying to sell it at a secondhand store.

Voice Assistants

Amazon will take back any tech product from their brand including Alexa, Echo, and Kindle. Google also has a similar takeback program for Google Home, Chromebook, and other devices.

Game Consoles

Gamers love retro consoles like the Nintendo Entertainment System and Sega Genesis. Before you toss it in recycling, try to sell it online, or better yet, regift it to a kid in your family.

Headphones & Earbuds

Is the left earphone louder than the right? First, try to fix your headphones or earbuds by holding them with electrical tape or changing the sound settings. If that doesn’t work, you can search for a recycling facility near you.

Wearable Gadgets

Smart Watches, Fitbits, VR sets, and many other pieces of wearable technology can be brought to a drop-off location or recycling center. Consider also donating this technology to a nearby community center or gym.

Cameras & Camcorders

Sony, Canon, Dell, LG, and HP are a just a few companies that offer recycling programs for old camcorders and cameras. You can also get many other electronic gadgets recycled at their facilities.

Office Equipment

Remarkably, 375 million empty ink and toner cartridges are thrown away every year! You can recycle them as well as old scanners, copiers, and printers at a nearby e-waste facility.

Appliances

There are a ton of appliances in your house that can be recycled, even if you need to hire a junk removal company to remove them. Keep this in mind if you plan on upgrading to something new.

The following appliances can be recycled at a local facility:

  • Refrigerators
  • Freezers
  • Stoves
  • Ovens
  • Microwaves
  • Coffee makers
  • Blenders
  • Garbage disposals
  • Dishwashers
  • Washers
  • Dryers
  • Vacuum cleaners
  • Hair dryers
  • Curling irons
  • Hair straighteners
  • Electric shavers
  • Air conditioners
  • Heaters

To save yourself some time and effort, gather all your old devices in a bin and keep the entire thing in storage. You can then recycle, donate, or sell everything inside in one swoop at the end of the year.

Batteries should also be recycled. Many stores, including Loews, Whole Foods, Target, and Walmart, have kiosks where you can safely dispose of your batteries.

What is the Solution for E-Waste?

This is a tech-driven world, which means there are many outdated devices sitting around gathering dust. Luckily, you have plenty of safe options when it comes to disposing of them.

The best way to dispose of your old electronics is to:

  1. Search for a recycling center near you.
  2. Donate to a non-profit, library, or school.
  3. Turn your tech into cash.
  4. Repurpose your gadgets into something new.

Where Can You Take Old Electronics for Recycling?

You probably know where to find a grocery store and a good pizza place, but how about a recycling center? Most people don’t really know where one is close to them.

There are a ton of helpful directories and a few stores that will help you recycle your old electronics. Try any of the following:

  • Apple stores
  • Best Buy
  • Target
  • Office Depot
  • Telecommunications companies
  • TerraCycle
  • Earth 911
  • RecycleNation
  • Call2Recycle
Source: https://www.ebay.com

Apple

Do you have an old iPhone or a Mac? Apple has a takeback program that allows you to trade in your device in exchange for a credit or gift card toward your next purchase.

Source: https://www.wayfair.com

Best Buy

Best Buy will take old electronics for recycling, even if they weren’t purchased at their store. This includes computers, cell phones, radios, appliances, camcorders, and GPS devices. You can even trade in some of these gadgets for store credit!

Source: https://www.extraspace.com

Target

Many Target stores have kiosks set up near the entrance or exit. These cardboard bins are there to collect a bunch of electronics, not limited to MP3 players, batteries, and smartphones.

Source: https://www.bobvila.com

Office Depot

You can purchase a tech recycling box on the Office Depot website. Fill this box up with 20 pounds worth of electronics, and Office Depot will then take care of the recycling for you.

Source: https://www.amazon.com/Outdoor-Interiors-Stacking-Chairs-Brown/dp/B00QV9V5CG

Telecommunications Companies

Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile all have trade-in programs for your old cell phones. They will either recycle them or donate them to those in need. For instance, Verizon gives old phones to victims of domestic violence through their HopeLine project.

Source: https://www.bobvila.com

TerraCycle

TerraCycle has a free recycling program where you can collect your electronics and ship them directly to their facility. They accept cell phones, tablets, cables, headphones, and even ink cartridges.

Source: https://www.ebay.com

Earth 911

If you don’t have a store near you that accepts e-waste, you can try Earth 911’s directory instead. Type in your zip code and the site will pull up a facility within 10 to 20 miles.

Source: https://www.wayfair.com

RecycleNation

It’s hard to know where to start when it comes to recycling. RecycleNation makes it all way easier! Simply visit their site and type in what you’re trying to recycle. You’ll then get a generated list of nearby facilities!

Source: https://www.extraspace.com

Call2Recycle

This is another directory you can use to find a local recycling center. Call2Recycle is a particularly great source for recycling used batteries, and they even have drop-off locations at Home Depot, Lowes, and Staples stores across the United States.

You can’t just throw your old electronics in the curbside bin. Do a Google search for “recycling centers near me,” check one of the directories listed above, or take your old electronics to a store that offers e-waste recycling.

The National Football League held an e-waste recycling event in Florida for Super Bowl LIV. Fans could trade in their old electronics in exchange for a gift bag.

Where Can I Donate Old Electronics?

While recycling your tech devices is great, it’s even better to donate them to an organization in need. We all want to stay connected, and many people around the world need gadgets to make that happen.

You can donate gently used electronics to any of the following non-profit organizations:

  • Cell Phones for Soldiers
  • World Computer Exchange
  • National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
  • National Cristina Foundation
  • Goodwill
  • Salvation Army
  • Libraries
  • Community Centers
  • Schools
https://www.cellphonesforsoldiers.com/volunteer-resources/

Cell Phones for Soldiers

There are 1.3 million people in the U.S. military. Cell Phones for Soldiers has made it their mission to provide active-duty members with cell phones they can use to stay in touch with their loved ones.

https://www.devex.com/organizations/world-computer-exchange-inc-19576

World Computer Exchange

Students in developing areas struggle to have access to the computers they need to be successful. The World Computer Exchange collects refurbished computers and sends them to those in need.

https://twitter.com/ncadv

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

Nearly 20 people per minute are abused by their partner in the United States. NCADV is doing whatever they can to help, including collecting gently used electronics. They then sell these gadgets in exchange for more funding.

https://www.eastersealstech.com/2017/01/25/national-cristina-foundation-connects-nonprofits-with-technology/

National Cristina Foundation

Your used computer could go to an individual in need. Reach out to the National Cristina Foundation to donate your laptop to refugees, people with disabilities, and others who could use the technology boost.

https://1000logos.net/goodwill-logo/

Goodwill

With over 3,300 Goodwill stores in the United States, you can easily find a location near you! Drop off your gadgets, and other odds and ends, when you’re no longer using them.

https://www.newfrontierchronicle.org/salvation-army-crest-shield-signify/

Salvation Army

The Salvation Army is similar to Goodwill. They will take items that you no longer want and sell them to someone else. This is a good way to give a second life to your devices.

Libraries

Your local library could be looking for a donation of computers, tablets, or headphones. Call them directly and speak with someone in public relations to find out if they can use your gadgets.

Community Centers

Park districts and YMCA centers offer many free programs and services. They don’t make a ton of money, which is why they might have a need for your gently used electronics.

Schools

Funding has been hit hard for some schools, so every little thing you can do helps. Get in touch with your local district and see if they need e-readers, tablets, keyboards, or any other devices.

You can also reach out to a nearby charity or non-profit and ask if they are in need of electronics or appliances. Homeless centers, animal shelters, the Red Cross, the Make-a-Wish Foundation, and more are always looking for donations!

How Do I Turn Old Technology Into Cash?

Are you saving for a dream vacation or trying to pay off debt? A good start would be turning your old technology into cash!

You can trade your old electronics for cash at any of the following places:

  • Disc Replay
  • Half Price Books
  • Next Worth
  • Green Buy Back
  • Planet Green Recycle
  • Gazelle
  • Glyde
  • OfferUp
  • Facebook Marketplace
  • Garage Sale

Disc Replay

Disc Replay is a secondhand electronics store that will give you cash or store credit in exchange for your video games, consoles, controllers, CDs, and movies. Find a location near you!

Half Price Books

Don’t let the name fool you! Half Price Books sells not only gently used novels, textbooks, and comics, but also games and movies. Visit any of the 127 stores across the United States.

Next Worth

Find out the value of your devices, and Next Worth will give you cash. You also get the peace of mind knowing the site is recommended by The Wall Street Journal and Money Magazine.

Green Buy Back

Check out Green Buy Back if you have a smart watch, game console, or camera you no longer want. This website will give you a free quote and send you money in exchange for your gadgets.

Planet Green Recycle

Planet Green Recycle has a handy chart on their website that shows just how much you’ll earn in exchange for specific models and brands. You can sell your phone, laptop, and a ton of other electronics.

Gazelle

Do you have an old cell phone or iPod? Get an offer from Gazelle and ship it to their site for free. In exchange, you’ll get an Amazon gift card, PayPal credit, or a check.

Glyde

Take a quiz on the Glyde website to see how much your cell phone is worth. From there, trade it in and receive cash or money through PayPal.

OfferUp

Download the OfferUp app on your phone, and you can post pictures of any gadget you no longer want. People in your area will then reach out to make offers. Be sure to meet in a public place for everyone’s safety!

Facebook Marketplace

Facebook Marketplace is designed for people who use the social media platform frequently. It’s not only a good way to sell old tech devices, but also to score amazing deals.

Garage Sale

If all else fails, you can hold a garage sale right at home. Sell old tech devices and appliances, as well as other items like clothes you don’t wear and toys your kids no longer use.

How to Repurpose Old Tech Devices

Are you looking for a fun project? You can repurpose your old tech gadgets into something new. This is a great solution if your items are too difficult to recycle and aren’t accepted for donation or cash.

Here are some ways you can repurpose old tech devices:

Laptop

Turn it into an E-Reader

CDs

https://craftsbyamanda.com/recycle-craft-cd-coasters/

Make DIY Coasters

Cell Phone

Give to Your Kids As a Toy

Television or Computer Monitor

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/570620215265034614/

Create a Decked Out Dog House

Cables or Headphones

Thread DIY Bracelets

Keyboards

http://www.diytomake.com/22-upcycled-keyboard-keys-ideas/

Use the Keys to Make Keychains

Tablet

https://www.myni.life/reuse-and-recycle/15-ways-to-repurpose-an-old-tablet

Wake Up to a Digital Alarm Clock

Coffee Maker

https://www.favecrafts.com/Green-Crafting/Coffee-Pot-Homemade-Terrarium

Build a Fun New Aquarium

Refrigerator

http://kraftykarina.blogspot.com/2013/07/from-old-refrigerator-to-ice-chest.html

Store Drinks in a Backyard Ice Chest

Game Console

https://www.pinterest.es/pin/454863631088471418/

Pack a Retro Lunch

These are just a few ideas of how you can upcycle your old devices and appliances. Go to a craft store, get a ton of supplies, and be creative! It’s much better for the planet to repurpose your gadgets into something new.

Why Should I Recycle Electronics?

The process for finding e-waste solutions has never been easier! After all, technology has put a world of information at our fingertips.

The United States produces more e-waste than any other country, which is why you should recycle your electronics. It’s important that we all do our part in protecting the planet!

Stats for Success

An estimated $64.6 billion worth of gadgets are currently in landfills.

Small electronics like cameras, toys, and electric shavers make up about 32% of the world’s e-waste.

The amount of tech gadgets that are in the trash could stack up to create 4,500 Eiffel Towers.

Only 12.5% of e-waste is currently being recycled.

The Bottom Line

People are always looking for gizmos and gadgets, even if they’re gently used. There’s no reason why you should be throwing electronics into the garbage! Donate them, turn them into cash, or find a repurposing project. Your last resort should be bringing your gadgets to a recycling facility near you.

References

De Quetteville, H. (2020, January 11). The Average Household Has £127 Worth of Old Tech… So Are You Sitting on a Small Windfall? Retrieved from,
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/0/average-household-has-127-worth-old-tech-sitting-small-windfall/

Ramberg, B. (2018, May 2). How Often Should You Upgrade Your Smartphone? Retrieved from,
https://altitudeintegrations.com/how-often-should-you-upgrade-your-smartphone/

Calma, J. (2020, July 2). Humans Left Behind a Record Amount of E-Waste in 2019. Retrieved from,
https://www.theverge.com/21309776/record-amount-ewaste-2019-global-report-environment-health

Cho, R. (2018, August 27). What Can We Do About the Growing E-Waste Problem? Retrieved from,
https://news.climate.columbia.edu/2018/08/27/growing-e-waste-problem/

Merriam-Webster. E-waste. Retrieved from,
https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/e-waste

Do Something.org. 11 Facts About E-Waste. Retrieved from,
https://www.dosomething.org/us/facts/11-facts-about-e-waste

CBS Miami. (2020, January 9). Super Bowl LIV E-Waste Recycling Rally and Tree Giveaway. Retrieved from,
https://miami.cbslocal.com/2020/01/09/super-bowl-liv-e-waste-recycling-rally-tree-giveaway/

Flaherty, E. (2020, February 6). Here’s What to Do With Your Old Chargers and Cables. Retrieved from,
https://www.familyhandyman.com/article/what-to-do-with-your-old-chargers-wires-and-cables/

Part Select. The Green Guide to Recycling Appliances and Electronics. Retrieved from,
https://www.partselect.com/JustForFun/Guide-to-Recycling-Appliances-and-Electronics.aspx

Griffith, E. (2017, April 20). How to Recycle Your Technology. Retrieved from,
https://www.pcmag.com/how-to/how-to-recycle-your-technology

Council on Foreign Relations. (2020, July 13). Demographics of the U.S. Military. Retrieved from,
https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/demographics-us-military

NCADV. Statistics. Retrieved from,
https://ncadv.org/statistics

Button, K. (2016, February 24). 20 Staggering E-Waste Facts. Retrieved from,
https://earth911.com/eco-tech/20-e-waste-facts/

About the author

Alyssa Mertes

Alyssa is a promo expert with over four years of experience in the industry. She is the Lead Copywriter at Quality Logo Products and has had work published for the Promotional Products Association International and the Advertising Specialty Institute.